ELI5: what is customer obsession?

Customer obsession: at first glance, it sounds like customers obsessed with your brand — something businesses would generally welcome.

However, customer obsession doesn’t describe obsessed customers. Rather, it’s the name for companies that are obsessed with creating great customer experiences. (Though the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.)

Here’s a closer look at customer obsession, what it means, and why it matters.

Customer obsession definition

Customer obsession describes companies that ‘obsess’ over creating great customer experiences. It’s a strategy in which a business places extra focus and commitment on having a customer-first approach. 

In other words, customer obsession is where the needs and wants of the customer are placed at the centre of every action the business takes. The customer experience is under constant improvement efforts.

Is customer obsession the same as customer centricity?

Customer centricity:

“A customer-centric business revolves around creating positive customer experiences from the off. It makes the customer’s wants, needs and interests the pivotal point of the business’s philosophy, operations, decisions and service.”

What does it mean to offer a customer-centric experience?

The terms are extremely similar in definition. So much so, in fact, that many believe them to be synonymous. Both are about putting the customer at the centre of the business and using their needs to inform company actions.

Others suggest that there is a difference between customer centricity and customer obsession, in the form of the scale at which the organisation focuses on customer needs. This viewpoint suggests that customer obsession is a higher level of focus on the customer. ‘Obsession’ requires continuous reflection on customer needs, and more emphasis on those needs than the approach of even a customer-centric business.

In other words, customer obsession places customer needs and wants as everything to the business.

The characteristics of customer obsession

So, what does customer obsession look like?

·         Accessible service

A customer-obsessed company is obsessed with listening to its customers. As such, they make reaching out as easy as possible for anybody seeking service. This applies both in terms of accessibility for varying abilities, and ease of access in general.

For instance, websites are clear, easy to use, and have accessibility options. (Like bigger fonts, different colours, and screen reader compatibility.) When a customer wants to reach out, there’s a live chat option ready on every page.

·         Omnichannel support options

With a variety of customer needs to meet, a customer-obsessed business would have every channel they can to meet them.

Individual support needs will change based on time, day, the customer’s unique services and so on. So, a mix of contact channels will be available: email, telephone, chat, social media, ticket, etc.

But they won’t just be available. These channels will also integrate, so that customers can easily swap and change between the channel that best suits them.

·         Empowered agents

Customers need agents – be they sales, support, tech, etc. – that can help them. They need representatives that can solve their problems, and that can (from time to time) create customer delight.

So, a customer-obsessed business will empower agents. This means that agents can make decisions freely, and are trained to solve problems to a high standard.

·         Frequent feedback collection

Customer obsession means being connected to the pulse of your customers — and constantly evolving with them. To do this, customer-obsessed companies are always collecting, reviewing, and acting on customer feedback.

·        Aligned marketing and service departments

Another characteristic of customer-obsessed companies can be seen in how they measure success.

Customer obsession sees heightened emphasis on business metrics that display customer thoughts and happiness — satisfaction scores, sentiment analysis, channel preferences, reviews, etc.

It isn’t just the service department that cares about such metrics, either. As well as the executive team, the marketing department will align with these views too. That way, they’ll have a clear idea of who the customers they’re targeting are, and launch campaigns that appeal to that exact market.

·         Value customer quality over quantity

Customer obsession isn’t about being obsessed with having as many customers as possible. Rather, it’s about being obsessed with creating high quality experiences and welcoming high-quality customers. That is, customers that are loyal brand advocates.

·         Rewarding teams for high customer satisfaction scores

Some customer-obsessed companies also aim to reward agents for providing consistently excellent service. They do so by taking into account the satisfaction and sentiment scores each agent creates on average when calculating bonuses, for instance.

This does not mean that all monetary compensation is based solely on these metrics. Rather, they are considered alongside other factors when rewarding agents with promotions or bonuses and so on.

Customer obsession to create obsessed customers

So, what is customer obsession? It’s building a company around customer needs and desires. It’s where your organisational decisions and processes are rooted in a commitment to customer experience.

Obsessing over making great customer experiences means more customers get great service and a great impression of your company, time and time again.

In turn, great experiences breed loyalty and advocacy. So, done right, there’s no reason that customer obsession can’t lead to obsessed customers.  

Useful links

What does it mean to offer a customer-centric experience?

Accessible customer service: is your business open?

Small but mighty: the power of brand advocacy