To achieve success in this increasingly challenging economic time and competitive business platform perhaps a different type of approach is required. Looking at the CCA Industry Council report of 2016, there are some fundamentals that many businesses still seem to be missing and it all revolves around customer service.

Integrate technology with customer service as the core

Technology enables us to collect an amazing amount of data on customers and their experience with our business, yet much of it is being stored away rather than being actively analysed to find ways to improve customer service. 85% of organizations reported that way they collect and analyse customer data could be greatly improved. And 67% of organizations believed that improved strategic partnerships with technology service providers could help them to improve the customer experience.

The best way to ensure that happens is to integrate and implement technology with customer service as the core. When everything is centred on the customer, it brings clarity to what data needs to be collected and analysed. It provides insight into what customers really want which provides direction for a more targeted customer service strategy. Personalization can drive these efforts because the data to make that happen is available.

Organizational culture change

While technology can make a huge difference to customer service efforts, there also needs to be a cultural shift within organizations to focus more on customers. Every task that employees do as part of their daily routine can be linked back to the customer. When there is a greater awareness about this and the impacts of customer service, it can make a major difference to the culture and operations of an organization.

From a business leadership perspective some of the most valuable customer feedback comes through employees. They may also be a source of valuable ideas on how to improve systems and the customer experience. Yet if companies are taking the time to engage with their employees, how can they expect them to connect with customers?

The demand for customer data means that there needs to be a free flow of information within the organization. This is often a big culture change because historically many departments like to operate individually. A culture of sharing and collaboration that is focused on the customer will help organizations to become more agile and service delivery to be optimised.

Innovate as though starting from scratch

Start-ups generally don’t have much cash to splurge or red tape to cut through, unlike more established organizations. They innovate, choosing to do things differently and thinking creatively on how to win customers over. This is often why they are able to make successful inroads into established markets and grab market share. 95% of organization claimed that budget allocations and lack of resources were what was hindering innovation.

If established businesses want to retain and grow their existing market share then they need to start thinking and innovating like start-ups, allocating budgets for innovation and streamlining the approval process to get new ideas up and running quickly. This is the only way to stay agile in an increasingly competitive business environment.

Lead for the future generation of customers and employees

Both customer and employee expectations are changing, money or recognition are no longer the primary motivators for employees. Customers too are looking for something different which means management needs to adapt how they operate.

A new style of leadership is required in the digital age where information is abundant and instantly available. Yet in the survey only 3% of businesses have embraced digital technologies to develop their workforce and improve the customer experience. This is something that needs to be urgently addressed as 62% of organizations predict that millennials will be even more demanding in future regarding employment and customer service.

Some technologies that can be considered include gamification, which not only helps to improve employee engagement but can also be used to improve skills and knowledge within the organization. Leaders may also need to allow more flexibility in the workplace to encourage innovative thinking towards a more customer centric culture.

It is clear that despite all the advantages of technology, the secret to success involves people: knowing how to engage with them, allowing them to innovate and placing customers firmly at the centre of all decisions being made within the organization. Building and maintaining relationships may be the single most important success factor.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Carolyn Blunt – View the original post