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If Your Company Is Not Customer-Obsessed, You're Doing It Wrong Since the advent of agile development and the rise of data-driven insights, "customer obsession" went from grabbing headlines, to a nice-to-have, and now it's mission-critical.

By Sharel Omer Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Morton's, a well-known American steakhouse chain, delivered a steak to a customer timed to when his plane landed at an airport after he had asked for one in a tweet. While the act garnered headlines as an extraordinary and rare customer-obsessed moment, in the world of software, that real-time reaction and attention to detail would make far less of a splash. Since the advent of agile development and the rise of data-driven insights, "customer obsession" went from grabbing headlines to a nice-to-have, and now it's mission-critical. The stakes are higher than ever, and it's customer obsession that is now the deciding factor between businesses success or failure.

The new reality is here and tens of billions are up for grabs

A staggering $35.3 billion is lost every year due to avoidable customer experience issues in the U.S. alone. As a result, as a report by Forbes reveals, 83% of executives face moderate to severe revenue and market share risks due to unimproved CX. And while repercussions for providing a poor experience are sizeable, so too are the benefits of going above and beyond, with Forbes finding that 74% of consumers are likely to buy based on experiences alone. Evidence that customers now prioritize positive CX above all else is overwhelming. The multi-billion-dollar question of CX is now at the forefront of businesses' priorities, but many don't know where to start.

Related: 5 Creative Ways Consumer Data Can Quickly Scale Your Business

There is no "new oil," only surveys and well-utilized data representing alternative energy

Just take one look at your phone when you update the software, and you'll probably notice that the updates are frequent and occur weekly or even every few days. Surveys take far longer, and while tapping into obvious sources of data to fuel your business (such as click-through rate or downloads) might be an important indicator, they take time to interpret, communicate and act on. That status quo increasingly resembles oil, a relic that is doing more harm than good. The alternative is an embrace of data-driven insights that can be utilized and acted upon in real-time, an approach that starts with understanding where and how to gather data.

60%+ of companies today are trying to take advantage of data to drive better business decisions. However, most businesses are focused on quantitative data, which can enable businesses to collect information about the number of people who attended a webinar or the number of people who went to the shopping mall at a certain time. However, quantitative data only shows you the numbers, not the whole picture. Therefore, it does not provide insights into businesses that will make a significant difference in how products are made and perceived by consumers.

Qualitative data completes the story. It is able to inform businesses what customers and consumers are asking for, what they need, and what they're complaining about. Quantitative data must be used in conjunction with qualitative data if businesses want to make the most of their data collection.

Related: Staying Ahead of the Curve: How the Customer Experience Is Evolving

Customer success isn't enough. Aim wider!

One famous, often quoted study by TARP in 1999 showed that only about 1 of every 26 unhappy customers will bother to make a formal complaint, and more recent studies have corroborated that by showing 96% of unhappy customers won't complain, and 91% will simply leave and never come back. Relying on a small number of customer complaints, or just browsing social media to understand customers, isn't enough.

To truly understand customers, brands must find out where they are talking about them and topics related to their business, collecting consumer data beyond the "ordinary" parameters, in real-time. For FinTech companies, this means knowing that retail traders communicate on Reddit, while for gaming companies, this means Discord, Vanilla or Steam. This is non-quantitative data, and it's crucial to putting customers first. Gathering relevant data from a variety of external sources and internal sources, such as chat analysis and ticketing services, provides a more informed and accurate overview of a company's customer feedback. This strategic gathering and analysis of data from multiple sources is crucial in accurately informing companies where to focus their energy.

The logic is sound. Businesses cannot exist without customers. It's as simple as that. Therefore, it only makes sense that CX should not be limited to customer service departments. Customer-focused communication across departments, based on data collected, is essential in order to build the customer-obsession experience that customers demand today. This is a simple way to make any-sized business customer-obsessed.

Beginning with the end in mind when making business decisions based on data ensures a clear understanding of the goals of a project and encourages business-savvy, streamlined decision-making. Turning data into actionable business strategies is the end goal of customer obsession and is the ultimate way to better serve customers and their needs.

Related: Good Decision Making Requires Good Data

Sharel Omer

CEO & Co-founder

Sharel Omer is an entrepreneur whose passion for personal connections & building relationships has made him dedicated to bringing the consumer voice's power to organizations. He's the CEO & co-founder of Affogata, a customer intelligence platform that enables brands to be truly customer-obsessed.

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