“You’ve gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology” – Steve Jobs
Today, business has changed. It is focused on the customer, not the bottom line. Because in order to meet the bottom line, the customer has to be involved. With the advancement of the internet and modern technology, when the customer isn’t happy, people will know about it. Instantly. For this reason, customer service and customer relationship management is more important than ever.
Customer relationship management is “The principles, practices, and guidelines that an organization follows when interacting with its customers.” (Investopedia) This is not just about sales and service calls either. This includes getting to know their customers, their behaviors, that wants and desires, their pain points, and what they need before they do.
A New Realm of Customer Relationship Management
The internet has opened up a whole new realm of customer relationship management. Before, when a customer was upset, he or she may tell a few of their friends and family and that was their reach. Today, they can reach millions with just a single tweet. This also means that there are new ways for business to handle customer service issues. A post on a facebook wall gives a business 24/7 access to respond. It is also documented and shows to everyone else that yes there was an issue, but look how we responded quickly and personally to this customers’ needs.
Social media and the internet also allow businesses to learn more about their customers. Today, so much personal information is available on line including marital status, education level, location, likes, dislikes, buying patterns, and more. Forums also allow companies to see what their customers have issues with even if the forum is not on their site. Cookies allow companies to collect data including location and other information on every visitor to their website.
Going Above and Beyond
One company that has gone above and beyond to not only get to know their customer, but to get to know them so well they are able to tell them what they need. That company is Apple. Incorporated in 1977, Apple has become a pioneer in technology, computers, tablets, TV, and hand-held devices.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs
Apple consistently tops the charts in customer service. “For the seventh straight year, Apple has topped its competitors in the PC industry in the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), achieving a score of 86 out of 100.” (Cnet)
This idea of being there for customers goes all the way to the individuals at the genius bar. “Employees are told (and trained) not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. ‘Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs—some of which they may not even realize they have,’ one training manual says.” (Socialmediatoday.com)
Apple, as a company, has always focused on the customer. They offer several outlets for the customer to receive assistance including the genius bar and social media, customers can get a personalized experience that is focused on them. Their stores are private. Their products all work together. They offer complete solutions.
Supply Chain Logistics Management, Bowersox, Closs & Cooper, 4th Edition.