Becoming customer-obsessed in acquiring, serving, and retaining customers is no longer merely an advisable option, but a necessity for businesses. Digital transformation and evolving customer expectations are forcing organisations to become more transparent in their operations. Businesses that fail to demonstrate a customer-first approach will find it difficult to compete successfully, according to Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth.

Greg O’Loan, regional vice president for ANZ, Epicor Software, said, “The most successful businesses strive for growth, embrace the digital age, and are constantly looking for ways to deliver and exceed customer expectations.

“To grow their business, companies need to become customer-centric in the design of their systems, processes, and practices, and instil a culture that supports a customer-focused operating model. A growth-focused business should incorporate the latest technology to boost the customer experience. Businesses need to keep that customer focus at the front of their mind at all times.”

Epicor advises the following three steps to help companies become more customer-obsessed:

1. Develop a customer-first culture

Customer awareness is not enough in the modern world. Businesses are rapidly shifting towards customer-led models. High-growth organisations focus on their customers in every aspect of their business and rely on them to provide insight that supports the future development of the company.

Businesses store and collect huge amounts of customer data, which can drive an even more focused and personalised approach, but only if they use it appropriately. A Forrester study found just 11 per cent of marketers actually use this data for future marketing decisions, which means they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to demonstrate a customer-first approach. (1)

2. Be driven by insights

Insight-driven organisations often see higher rates of growth because they utilise all the information available to them in the most efficient way. They derive insight from customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty programs, and invest in integrated systems that incorporate sophisticated analytics and real-time reporting. Customers expect fast responses so businesses need agile systems. Accurate insights are integral to quick and informed decision-making.

Customer-obsession, and the business growth that follows, is not possible without first considering a customer’s expectations. Customers expect prompt responses to their queries, they expect businesses to be there in real-time, and a report from Ohio University revealed that 42 per cent of people expect a response within an hour. (2)

O’Loan said, “The latest global research study from Epicor, Global trends for high growth companies that truly ‘get growth’, found that 54 per cent of the global workforce recognises IT investment as a priority, with that figure increasing in regions where growth is fast, such as Mexico and China. (3) Organisations that understand growth, and how to achieve it, recognise the value of IT and technology investments, and are using this to further develop their customer-first strategies. Investment in IT and technology therefore needs to be a priority for businesses striving for growth, to ensure competitiveness and to secure their market position.”

3. Get better-connected internally

Traditional top-down, siloed operating models provide clear reporting lines and accountability, but often result in long decision cycles and conflicting customer experiences. Today’s high-growth organisations create cross-functional, multidimensional teams that are fast and agile, and deliver truly integrated customer solutions.

O’Loan said, “Any business operating without a focus on growth is not positioned for success in today’s market. A customer-obsessed operating model, which asks ‘what would our customer want?’ or ‘what does our customer expect?’ before any decision is made, is fast becoming the norm. Businesses that don’t take this approach will see their competitors succeed as they lag behind.

“Simply accepting the current rate of growth will limit an organisation’s ability to improve its position over the long term. Companies should therefore consider the next step, which is customer-obsession.”