By John McCallion, CEO of GroundScope

There are many factors you need to get just right in order to build a successful, well-functioning business, but all truly successful brands have one thing in common: they’re built on a solid foundation of great customer experience. Great entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford have all acknowledged the importance of customer satisfaction in the overall success of a business, but how does a business go about making sure that they’re doing all they can to ensure they deliver the best possible experience?

Over the course of my career, I’ve been responsible for designing products and services that deliver a great customer experience across a variety of markets; including retail, travel, food, and B2B travel. While the wants and needs of the customer changes from industry to industry, I’ve found that there are certain areas you can improve to ensure your customers feel you’re going above and beyond for them. This is more important in today’s customer climate as the expectations in the standards of service are higher than ever before.

Develop a customer service culture

The first step to delivering a great customer service experience is to ensure that the leaders in your businesses share the same vision for customer satisfaction as you. Through championing the importance of customer satisfaction within the business, and inspiring and instilling this in your executives and managers, you can ensure this vision is employed in all areas of the company. You can cultivate this on an on-going basis through investing in great staff training and induction processes to ensure that new employees fully understand what the organisation is trying to achieve and how committed it is to delivering great customer service.

Regularly communicating this vision, and ensuring transparency with employees to ensure everyone in the company is up to date with how the company is doing is also essential in developing a service focused culture.

Your employees are key to your journey towards customer satisfaction. As Richard Branson has said ‘making customer service key to your organisation will keep your customers happy and your employees motivated.

Understand your customer

Along with the internal framework of your customer service culture, you need to understand exactly who your target customer is and what they need and want from your service. Effective market research can provide you with detailed insight into the behaviours and trends which leads to how customers react to your current service or product. In addition, this data could be highly useful when it comes to identifying new ways to improve your service.

Alongside this, companies need to fully understand their market and competition. Through regularly evaluating what your competitors are doing, and how your product and service compares, you can ensure you stay at the cutting edge of your industry.

New Product Development

Insight from customers and competitors can always help give you a push towards a direction of innovation and improvement. Developing innovative new ideas and products based on customer demand is an essential requirement to on-going business success.

I have been involved in product development for many years, and understand the value of producing a steady stream of valuable, new products and services, based on the end-users needs.

Further examples of developing a business model to keep up with customer demand and innovative competition is particularly evident in the retail industry, where brands have had to adapt to online competition. An example of this is through retailers providing “click and collect” services in order to keep them ahead of the competition.

Many companies have similarly had to expand their businesses technology offering. However, although investing in technology is now clearly an essential step for any business, many IT businesses fail to fully understand the importance of good technology combined with human support, which are an essential part of delivering a great overall customer experience. In order to give customers the support they need and expect, companies should ensure they have a balance of technology and on-hand human support that ensures their customers have a streamlined, clear path to the service and support they need.

Designing products and services that deliver a great customer experience is at the core of developing successful businesses and it can be the most challenging, but rewarding part of your job. The pace of change now in business means that quality products and services need to be developed to meet the changing demands of consumers today, as well as to keep your business ahead of the competition.