Inspired by his time working for Amazon, insurance industry leader Jeff Somers explains how to take a customer-centric approach to your business.
Running a business requires the ability to strategically think about the future, while also focusing on many day-to-day details. While these tasks are critical to a company's success, it's also important to never lose sight of what should always be the top priority – serving customer needs.
Business owners often make decisions based on their business model or their position in the market in which they operate. However, most leading businesses today work tirelessly to prioritize frictionless and delightful customer experiences. Investing in superior customer experiences creates value for your customers, which should naturally lead to an increase in market share.
Your priority: your customers.
One of the best examples of a company that has mastered the art of a customer-centric business model is Amazon. One of the reasons I joined Amazon early in my career was its obsession with meeting customer needs. Its innovative culture starts with a relentless focus on delighting the customer, and that obsession has helped shape it into the market-changing powerhouse it is today.
Amazon's devotion to creating a superior customer experience is the basis for a project I worked on called Search Inside the Book. Up until that point, buying a book from Amazon was essentially like walking into a bookstore, where every title is shrink-wrapped. Since you were looking at them online, you couldn’t open a book and flip through the pages like you would if you were actually in a bookstore. It wasn't an outstanding customer experience.
This realization and a quest to improve the user experience is what drove us to develop the technology that allows customers to spend time reading a sample of each book before they make a purchase – just as they would in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. The result was more happy customers, and a five percent sales increase in books.
The tool was named one of the Coolest Inventions of 2003 by Time Magazine. While it definitely is cool, what's even more important is that it significantly enhanced the shopping experience for customers.
Every industry can find ways to improve the customer experience.
Not every business is trying to follow Amazon's business model, but no matter the industry the underlying focus should always be the same – strive to exceed customer expectations. This could be accomplished by offering a new product, improving transaction processes or anticipating and meeting customer needs.
For example, at Insureon I've incorporated some of those same principles to drive us in our quest to provide an easier, more intuitive experience for customers who are shopping for what is inherently a complex product – commercial business insurance. This practice can be applied to any business: Your top priority should be guiding customers through the buying journey so they feel confident that they are making the right decision. In addition to educating and guiding customers, you should also ensure the process for evaluating and purchasing your products and services is as easy and painless as possible.
Add value to the online customer experience.
There are good experiences and bad experiences when it comes to shopping online. The companies that exceed expectations are the ones that make it easy for customers to research, browse and buy online wherever and whenever they want. These businesses are usually the ones that also benefit from return customers and word-of-mouth referrals.
Ultimately, what customers are looking for is an experience that is intuitive, engaging and personalized. If your business can make headway in each of those categories, you are well on your way to creating a loyal customer base.