From Microsoft to Patagonia, these businesses have proven to achieve excellence by using a customer-centric approach.
In an earlier article, we discussed the how customer needs shape product success. Innovative endeavors that fail to recognize customer needs eventually fail as businesses.
The reasoning behind this is simple—products inherently exist to satisfy customer needs. Understanding your market needs is hence crucial to succeeding as a business.
There are obvious benefits that companies reap when they use a customer needs-focused approach, ranging from helping to identify new feature areas to validating market demand.
In this article, we’ll focus on five organizations that leverage their customer needs exceptionally well, and how doing this helps them achieve sales success and differentiate from competition in the long run.
Microsoft’s newest relationship-building-focused strategy enables each customer to be offered a personalized and streamlined experience across all company channels.
According to Microsoft, customers are more self-educated than ever before; they’re now engaging with more content and doing their research to make an informed buying decision. This includes connecting with others through LinkedIn, asking questions, and obtaining referrals as part of the process.
Microsoft’s inside sellers hence use the same resources to optimize every interaction. For instance, the Inside Sales team uses LinkedIn Sales Navigator to obtain important insights about leads such as their role, industry, and company focus to better tailor the sales pitch when it’s time to make a conversation.
This is the essence of social selling. It’s an amazing way to nurture leads and close sales, however, the relationship shouldn’t end when the contract is signed. As Microsoft’s Senior Director of Digital Sales puts it, it’s important to keep the relationship going, and there are plenty of ways to do that. You can follow them, comment on their articles, like their posts, and share content that might be useful to them. It’s all about engagement.
Being one of the greatest marketers out there, Apple’s consistent excellence is built upon core disciplines that are worth learning from.
One of these is Apple’s obsession with customer service. It might be tempting to assume that most of the company’s popularity comes from its focus on innovative and cutting-edge technologies. However, in reality, much of Apple’s success comes from its reputation as an outstanding service provider.
According to this article by Forbes, the rise of Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores in a predominantly digital era is the first indication of the company’s focus on customer service.
Apple does this to retain control over its customer service operations. For instance, customers who buy Apple’s products from a distinct retail location know exactly where to go to receive further support and product care assistance.
Apple also makes sure its retail staff goes through rigorous training before working on the floor. The company’s five “Steps of Service” are as follows:
- Approach the customer with a warm and personalized welcome
- Politely probe the customer to understand their needs
- Present a solution that the customer can take home today
- Listen to the customer and resolve any issues they have
- End with an affectionate farewell and an invitation to return in future
These five steps emphasize Apple’s focus on a customer-first strategy. It’s interesting to see that no step tells staff to meet sales targets. Rather, the employees are told to ensure customer needs are met and concerns are resolved.
Apple’s devotion to providing a customer experience had led to the company becoming synonymous with exceptional service. Apple’s customers often show absolute loyalty by refusing to use technology from any other brand and being vocal in praising the company’s virtues.
Patagonia is a perfect example of a brand that successfully blends its company culture with customer values.
Being an outdoor clothing retailer with over thirty stores across the US, the company boasts an annual turnover of about $800 million. Patagonia has long adapted a service strategy that enables customers to share its company vision.
For instance, the brand promotes a “buy less, buy quality” approach that encourages customers to stay environmentally conscious.
Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” initiative takes this one step further.
As part of the program, Patagonia asks customers to trade in their old clothes to get store credit in return. The clothes are then either sold as part of the “Worn Wear” apparel or are used to make new gear in the brand’s “Recrafted” product line.
Connecting customers with the company’s culture has helped Patagonia build stellar customer loyalty and customer advocacy for the long run.
There is a reason why TD Bank labels itself as “America’s Most Convenient Bank”. Its customer-centric approach calls for staying open seven days a week until 8 p.m. As CEO Ed Clark says, using this model has become a massive differentiator for TD, since a majority of other banks close at 4 p.m.
A customer will eventually wonder why they keep banking at a competitor’s branch across the street when TD offers beautiful stores with staff that fondly greet walk-ins and even offer biscuits to their dogs.
It’s also interesting how TD attracts new customers. Its model involves sending bankers out to small businesses on Sundays to let them know TD branches are always open while the customers’ existing banks are closed.
As Clark puts it, it’s a very simple concept that’s all about staying open longer and giving better service.
At Zappos, going the extra mile to deliver experience isn’t seen as an expense. The company produces revenue of over $2 billion every year by selling shoes online, without investing any money in traditional marketing.
Instead, Zappos gives back to its customers by providing extra services like free shipping both ways, a 365-day return policy, overnight shipping upgrades, and outstanding customer service.
Zappos views money spent on customer service as a much-needed investment that improves the brand and helps to differentiate it from other companies in the industry.
Some of the world’s biggest brands have put customer needs at the core of their operations which allowed them to achieve excellence, and that’s no surprise. Learn more about how to better embed customer needs and customer insights into your organization, including ongoing strategy and planning development processes, through a partnership with Gaussian Consulting.
Photo by Icons8 Team