The CEO’s Number One Rule for Customer Experience

target-customer-experienceWhen it comes to delivering an unbeatable customer experience, there is one rule that trumps all others. It has little to do with the operations and the front line, and everything to do with strategy and C-Suite.

What could it be?

“Target the Right Customers”

This one rule is more important than everything else because when you choose the wrong customers you can never fully satisfy them. Your efforts to do so will not only fall on deaf ears, they undermine great work and your company’s valuable reputation.

The converse is also true. Building a business that is ruthlessly committed to serving the right customers unleashes dramatic growth. Friction – internally and externally – is reduced, accelerating business momentum and increasing profitability.

In spite of all these benefits, organizations of all sizes still struggle to put their ideal customers at the center of their mission. Instead, they either accept all comers with an “everyone’s a customer” attitude or they fail to carefully cultivate a brand and culture that encourages potential buyers to self-select as “in” or “out.

These organizations tend to treat all customers as equal. As a result, those buyers that are least well aligned with the business model and strategy divert organizational focus and derail priorities. The more diluted the customer mix becomes, the harder it is for a business to regain focus and thrive.

The Customer Experience Multiplier Effect

I’ve done a lot of work with service-based business on increasing referrals. I’m constantly reminding them that buyers have a way of multiplying the good and the bad. For example, when you bend over backwards to do good work for the wrong clients, they won’t simply go away when the project is over, creating room for people you’d prefer to work with.

Instead, they recommend your business to more people like them. This launches a vicious cycle: costs and frustration go up on both sides as you work harder to please the un-pleasable.Satisfaction goes down because you’re not doing optimal work for buyers who most benefit. Customers become unhappy, reviews and rating decline and soon revenues follow.

This paradigm also holds for organizations that lose sight of – or never bother to identify – the ideal customers for their business. They wind up falling further and further behind while competitors with more intention and discipline gain ground.

The Power of Alignment

When CEOs and executives are diligent about defining and targeting their ideal buyers, the scenario is markedly different. Knowing who they serve most effectively shapes strategic decisions about where to invest, how to market and even which products to develop.

Intense focus also allows organizations to take customer experience efforts beyond front-line interactions. They can create an integrated culture that prioritizes the needs and aspirations of their best buyers, making it easy for those customers to understand offerings, make purchases, and receive support.

Aligning employees and strategies around buyer needs is a completely different approach than simply selling to anyone who comes along. Like a finely tuned engine in a precision sports car, holistically customer-focused organizations have the capability to quickly accelerate and take corners at high-speed. They also benefit from an intimate knowledge of customers that powers product development and brand differentiation.

In short, strategic customer-focus is a distinct competitive advantage.

Rather than being an expensive, feel-good exercise, cultivating a truly customer-focused organization is an effort that pays huge, long-term dividends. For executives that lead the charge, it yields growing revenue from loyal customers, increased profits with an efficient bottom line, and expanding brand equity.

As you consider ways to improve your customer experience, take a step back from the tactical initiatives and overwhelming sea of data. Set aside the surveys and ask yourself, are you adhering the #1 rule?

If you’re not talking to the right people, if your customer mix is out of balance, then regroup and refocus. Set your sights – and strategies – on the right customers for your business, first and foremost.

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