There's no way around it: You need die-hard fans if you want to run a successful company.

First, you need a solid product people love and feel is worth buying. But, how do you make sure your customers keep coming back? Kim Rachmeler, who spent 10 years at as the vice president of worldwide customer service and CIO International, says you need to develop a "Customer Obsession."

Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures, breaks down Rachmeler's tactic in a recent post on his firm's blog. Below, read how your company can use obsession to wrangle loyal customers (without being creepy).

Give customer service power.

Customer service needs to be more than just a garbage can for customer complaints and queries, Rachmeler says. She says the customer service department at many companies is underutilized because it's designed to be a "reactive" department. At Amazon, Rachmeler says the department has the ability to remove a product from the site if it's defective or doesn't meet consumer expectations. Only when the product is fixed can it be returned to the site, she says. Customer service reps should be empowered as a liaison between the consumer and the brand.

Gather feedback.

In order to improve your customer service department, you need to know how well it's performing and honest feedback is key. But, customers do not answer long-worded surveys, Rachmeler says. She suggests focusing on one metric: quality. Amazon measures quality by posing a single question in every email: "Was this answer helpful?" By posing one simple question, Rachmeler says more customers will give feedback and then you'll have data to use to make decisions and improve the department.

Build the company around customer service.

At Amazon, every manager is requirec to work in customer service for a period of time. Rachmeler says this mandatory practice reconnects management with customers and their needs. When the managers return to their posts, they have a customer-centric perspective that positively shapes their decisions. The practice also helps management become privy to the wealth of knowledge and information customer service has on consumer.

Published on: Nov 11, 2013