Customers Are People, Not Just Accounts

I was walking by the Ferry Building in San Francisco recently and a poster in the window of a big bank caught my eye. It said: “Customers want to be treated as people, not accounts.”

It’s a simple statement, but it’s so true no matter what industry you’re in—especially as you try to keep up with digital disruption.

After all, the popular observation continues to ring true: Facebook is the world’s largest media company without creating any content; Uber is the world’s largest taxi company without any vehicles; and Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider without any real estate.

How did these digital disruptors surpass long-standing industry leaders? By creating customer-centric businesses that deliver superior digital experiences. It’s time to start treating our customers like people, not just contributors to our bottom lines.

What Does It Mean to be a Customer-Centric Business?

Building a customer-centric business means investing in the customer experience. If we’re just creating products and services that fit our internal beliefs, they won’t resonate with customers.

Today’s mobile-first consumer has more control than ever in the buying process and it’s our job as business leaders to design a narrative that puts them at the center of every process. If communicating with your business proves frustrating or inconvenient, they’ll just leave for a competitor.

This means we have to understand our customers better than ever before. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to be customer-centric. You have to design a strategic narrative based on first-hand customer needs and desires—and then that strategic narrative must become part of the company’s DNA. Every department and employee should operate with the strategic narrative in mind, pushing the company forward with a goal of serving specific customer demands.

When you view customers as accounts instead of people, you’ll inevitably make mistakes as you try to figure out how to compete against the likes of Airbnb, Uber, Amazon, and others. This is how we’ve ended up with financial services firms looking for quick digital transformation wins, retailers recognizing the rise of concierge commerce, and travel companies striving to overcome online travel agency competition.

But overhauling your entire organization to become more customer-centric sounds like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be so difficult to start engaging with customers more effectively (and in a place that makes the most sense to them).

3 Keys to Designing a Customer-Centric Digital Experience

One of the best ways to picture how companies treat their customers like accounts instead of humans is the existence of IVR systems. How many times have you sat on the phone dealing with a frustrating automated system when all you wanted was to ask a service rep a simple question?

Treating customers like people means designing a digital experience that puts them first. Here are 3 keys to making that happen:

Make Communication as Convenient as Possible: The days of phone calls and emails for customer communication are coming to a close (or are already over). Using messaging to make synchronous and asynchronous communication as easy as possible can help you eliminate friction from customer conversations.

Take Advantage of a Central Hub of Customer Data: Customer-centric businesses don’t force consumers into any single channel. You have to be flexible and meet customers where they want. In the past, this has led to data silos and a fundamental misunderstanding of customer needs. If you want to get to know customers better, design a digital experience that brings all that data into one central hub.

Going Beyond Chatbots: Treating customers like people (not accounts) means understanding the value of 1:1 human engagement. Chatbots can help you scale a digital experience, but they can’t be the only means of communication. Go beyond chatbots and start engaging with customers personally.

Changing from a company that sees customers as accounts to one that sees customers as people is as much a culture shift as anything else. But the switch can make the difference between falling victim to digital disruption and overcoming your competitors.

If you want to learn how the Layer customer conversation platform can help you treat customers more like people, contact us today for a free demo.