When the postman knocked on my door and handed me my parcel containing a framed print, I felt that little jolt of joy a new delivery brings and also knew I’d earned extra brownie points by shopping with an independent retailer. When he told me that unfortunately it had been damaged, I felt my little shard of joy fracture like the glass inside the box.
I realised I had no idea how this situation was going to pan out and my ethical high ground began to feel a little precarious. Was the supplier going to ask me to pay to send the package back? Would the post office even accept a box of broken glass? I didn’t have the time or energy for this. So it was a very pleasant surprise indeed when Ed from Places in Print apologised for the inconvenience and said he’d send another right away, advising me to dispose of the broken glass carefully so as not to cut myself. Surely it couldn’t be this easy? But low and behold my new print arrived the very next day… and I felt a little silly. Why shouldn’t an independent supplier offer a 5-star service?
What sets this experience apart is the authenticity of the empathy afforded to me. Ed really did care that I was happy with the entire experience of engaging with his business, not just the product, and he cared about that more than having to write-off stock, in turn reducing his profit. And he was right to. My 5-star review will no doubt more than pay for it.
A quick search on Google tells me being customer-centric is: “an approach to doing business that focuses on providing a positive customer experience, both at the point of sale and after the sale in order to drive profit and gain competitive advantage” and who doesn’t want that? But the more I researched the more I realised it’s just not that simple.
It’s always been important for a successful businesses to satisfy their customers with great products and service but being customer-centric goes beyond this. To embed customer centricity into the beating heart of your company you need to weave it into everything. That’s your tech, your product, your website, your marketing, and of course your people (yep, all of them) so that every part of the business empathises with the customer and focuses on giving the best possible experience – sometimes at their own inconvenience.
In relation to the importance of customer experience, Forrester’s predictions for 2021 state: “This year’s advancers did the work to determine what really matters to their customers, identified projects to improve important experiences, prioritized the efforts with the biggest potential upside for customers and the business, and then trained their employees (and gave them new tools) so that they could deliver the right experiences consistently.”
So, I began to wonder just how customer centric Cognito iQ is and this took me on quite the journey, to understand how the customers’ needs influence the work that goes on in our organisation.
Dave Webb, COO commented that “as a software company we have become a trusted advisor and strategic partner to many of our customers, by gaining a greater understanding of their internal processes as well as their operational ones. When a customer makes a suggestion, we consider not only if we can technically do it, (because we probably can), but we think what that change would mean to their entire organisation. Sometimes we can identify further benefits, or spot issues that they have not foreseen.”
We achieve this by immersing ourselves into our customers world.
Mark Holdsworth, Product Owner said “We keep up with customer needs by embedding ourselves in a company, not only speaking to managers, but also with the frontline workers delivering the service so that we get a real feel for them as an organisation.” He went on to explain “I’ve worked a shift in a parcel hub, pulling cages, scanning packages to give the workers time to understand the new system, but also to give us an appreciation of how our product is actually used.”
This has been so beneficial to both the customer and our organisation that we now send developers and people from QA and Test so that when they are developing the product, they are able to relate back to their own experience doing the actual job, to truly appreciate how it will be implemented and the impact it will have on the customers organisation.
Andy Potter, Chief Architect went on to say ”In the past I worked largely with our customers IT departments to understand issues, but it became clear the people telling us about these were head office staff who hadn’t been on site. They were hearing it from the line manager, who had heard it from the supervisor, who was told by the technician in the field. By going to work alongside the technician we can cut through the noise and see the problem. I am also able to spot other things in the process that either aren’t working or could be improved.”
And it turns out everybody loves this way of working. The technician feels listened to and valued, their engagement with the company goes up and we are able to feed back to the people in head office in a way that really adds value to their business. The days Cognito iQ staff spend on site are massively off set by the time saved in fixing the issue. Everybody wins.
In KPMG’s Customer Action Plan it is stated 88% of CEOs are now concerned about customer loyalty and recognise that mastery of the customer agenda is essential. And Laurent Othacéhé, Cognito iQ’s CEO agrees. He told me “The value in being customer centric can’t be underestimated, but we wouldn’t call it a service – it’s just what we do.”
So there it is. Even whilst the world is gripped by a global pandemic (and maybe particularly) customer centricity, when done right, leads to better customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to increased business performance. It’s an immersive experience for the whole of Cognito iQ and one wholly worth engaging with.
And in that spirit I learned speaking directly to the people who receive the service is key. John Godwin an Engineer at Stanley Security Solutions said “I’d like to thank you for the excellent customer support I have had over the past few months. I have had particular help from a chap called David who has been very clear and helpful with resolving some pda issues I had.”