Pretending to be customer obsessed is easy when times are good. It’s common for companies to claim customer-centricity during prosperous periods. However, this can lead to losing sight of true customer obsession when there is ample funding, decades-long network effects, or operating as a monopoly. Let’s delve into a few examples that shed light on this issue.

Examples of Neglecting Customer Obsession

Google’s sale of Google Domains to Squarespace

Google’s sale of Google Domains to Squarespace without providing any customer notice is a prime example of neglecting customer obsession. Customers were left in the dark, with no direct communication until weeks later. Such actions undermine trust and fail to prioritize the customer experience.

Twitter’s drastic API changes

Twitter’s drastic changes to API access and user rate limitations have significantly disrupted the user experience. These changes can hinder third-party applications, impacting the overall functionality and enjoyment for Twitter users. Failing to consider the customer impact can have adverse consequences.

SaaS companies with significant downtime

SaaS companies experiencing significant downtime due to technical issues or service disruptions can severely affect customers’ ability to utilize the platform effectively. Customers rely on these services for their own operations, and any prolonged downtime can lead to frustration, loss of productivity, and even damage to their business.

Reddit’s API changes and private communities

Reddit’s drastic changes to API access, coupled with moderators turning communities private, can upset user communities. These changes directly affect how users interact, share content, and engage with others. Neglecting the impact on user communities can erode trust and loyalty among Reddit’s user base.

The Challenges of True Customer Obsession

Prioritizing long-term value over short-term profit

Making tough decisions that prioritize long-term value over short-term profit is a cornerstone of genuine customer obsession. It requires a strategic focus on building sustainable relationships and delivering value that extends beyond immediate financial gains.

Maintaining backward compatibility

Maintaining backward compatibility is essential to ensure a seamless user experience. By considering the impact of changes on existing users and systems, companies can avoid disrupting workflows and maintain customer satisfaction.

No dark patterns

A commitment to avoiding dark patterns, which manipulate or deceive customers, demonstrates a genuine dedication to their well-being. Transparency, honesty, and ethical practices are paramount in building trust and fostering long-term customer relationships.

The customer is always right

Upholding the principle that the customer is always right emphasizes the importance of listening, understanding, and valuing customer feedback. It entails actively seeking to meet customer needs and preferences, even when it requires adjustments or changes to existing processes.

No surprises

Transparency and clear communication are essential to avoid surprises for customers. Providing regular updates, setting accurate expectations, and proactively addressing potential issues help build trust and ensure customers feel valued and informed.

Customer NPS over inward-facing KPIs

Prioritizing customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) over internally-focused key performance indicators (KPIs), such as revenue, places emphasis on customer satisfaction and loyalty. This shift in focus drives efforts towards delivering exceptional experiences and cultivating strong customer relationships.

Making customers whole after mistakes

Taking responsibility and making customers whole, even after perceived mistakes, demonstrates a commitment to customer-centricity. This proactive approach to resolving issues and providing satisfactory solutions helps rebuild trust and strengthen the customer relationship.

Understanding Who the True Customers Are

The challenge of identifying the ultimate customer

Understanding who the true customers are presents a significant challenge for companies. For instance, Google and Meta ultimately sell to big advertisers, while Spotify must navigate relationships with record labels. Identifying the ultimate beneficiaries enables companies to align their strategies and optimize for the customer’s needs and expectations.

In conclusion, genuine customer obsession is a complex undertaking. It requires companies to make difficult decisions that prioritize long-term customer value, transparency, and satisfaction. By understanding who the true customers are and actively considering their needs, companies can foster exceptional experiences, build lasting relationships, and thrive in a customer-centric landscape.