Today’s business world requires companies to put customers in the driving seat. Nurturing customer relationships is the secret to boosting your customer lifetime value, cutting down churn, leaving your competitors in the dust, and catapulting your business growth. Usher in customer-centricity. We see you wondering, “What is it and how can you hack it?”
This article lays bare all you need to put a permanent smile across your customers’ faces☺. Read on:
What Does Customer Centric Mean?
Customer-centricity is a business approach where you prioritize your customer and place them at the heart of your business operations. The goal is to offer positive experiences and build life-long relationships.
Customer centricity can have positive impacts that can skyrocket your business’ growth. Don’t take our word for it:
- According to a Deloitte report, customer-centric organizations are 60% more profitable than those that lack this approach.
- Also, 64% of organizations with a customer-centric CEO beats their rivals hands-down regarding profitability.
What is the impact of customer centricity?
Customer-centricity definition out of the way, how about real-life example cases of its impact?
1. Amazon leads the pack
Amazon is among the behemoths demonstrating the importance of cementing brand equity through customer centricity. In fact, during the days of Jeff Bezos, every crucial meeting had an empty chair representing the customers.
Every department in the company focuses on collecting intelligent data about customers’ preferences, pain points, habits, behaviors, and more. The company then uses this data to deliver real value to the customer’s journey.
Their top-notch customer tracking game enhances efficiency in everything from product search to delivery and feedback. No wonder the company grew to a giant worth US$ 430bn in just 20 years, toppling Walmart.
2. Emirates soar higher
Emirates set the record in the Middle East amidst a highly competitive airline market. The company has risen to the challenge of surpassing customer expectations even as it expands to meet regional demand.
This airline understands that customers are making both physical and mental journeys. That’s why it invests much in customer-centric technology at every customer touch point- from booking to arrivals. No wonder 2016 saw its brand value growing up to $7.7 billion.
So, what are some of the impacts of customer-centricity? Let’s journey through them:
3. Lower customer churn rate
A customer-centric business has an in-depth understanding of its customer and their pain points. Also, it actively gathers actionable insights to boost customer experience. The result? Customers will be satisfied and remain loyal to the brand.
4. Higher customer satisfaction
Excellent customer service is the key to customer satisfaction, differentiating you from the pack in today’s competitive market. A Gartner survey reveals that 89% of organizations expect to compete mainly based on customer experience.
A satisfied customer will remain glued to your business, positively impacting your bottom line. So don’t remain behind.
5. Higher ROI and revenue
Higher customer satisfaction and low churn rate mean one thing- more customers will continue doing business with you. Solve their pain points, and they won’t keep the good news to themselves- they’ll refer your business to your friends and family. The overall result is a skyrocketed return on investment and revenue.
6. Increased innovation
A team that focuses on the customer strives to think outside the box. It won’t stick to old strategies that have fallen out of fashion, thereby increasing company-wide innovation.
7. Boost brand reputation
Customers’ voices can either break or make your brand. That’s where customer-centricity gives you a chance to listen to your audience and act appropriately. And that’s how leading companies turn negative feedback into winning strategies.
8. Stay ahead of changes
Customers’ preferences and needs can change or evolve abruptly, getting you off-guard. But if your organization is customer-centric, you’ll always be ahead of the game. This is because you always tailor your offer to the customer’s pain points and stay abreast with customer experience trends.
Implementing Customer-Centric Governence
So how can you embed your customer at your business’ heart? Here are tried-and-true strategies that will make customer-centric governence a top consideration within your company:
1. Create a customer-centric leadership structure that reports to CEO ultimately
In a particular US insurance firm, the CEO had prioritized customer experience for two years. Customer ratings shot through the roof.
But the CEO made a grave mistake. He decided that the customer-experience team should start reporting to COO. 6 months later, the customer ratings plummeted due to a lack of accountability from other departments.
What does that demonstrate? Customer journey needs to be an executive priority. In other words, the top honchos (such as Chief Customer Officer and Chief Executive Officer) need to own the customer experience for the culture to trickle down to the lowest ranks. They need to:
- Establish a common purpose and governance: Build rock-solid relationships among business areas focused on customer experience.
- Create new communication ways: Customer service leaders need to have a presence and voice on digital platforms and other areas where the target audience hangs out. These channels offer more personalized communication than traditional ones.
- Spearhead innovative customer space: Solutions like customer rooms bring customer experience to life. Leaders can highlight customer journey’s touchpoints, feedback, insights, and complaints around the room’s walls.
2. Understand customers to serve them, not to sell to them
You cannot tailor an experience if you don’t know your customer inside-out. To hack this strategy, combine customer usage and behavior data with external information. The external details in a customer’s background offer powerful insights into their spending behavior. Don’t forget to:
- View customers through the right lens: You can organize and view customers in various ways, for example, as a family or individual. The customer identification approach should align with your customer service strategy to get different customer base views.
- Variations: Identify variances in customers’ preferences, habits, buying behavior, socio-economic groups, and other areas. That’s how you can better laser-target them with your products and services.
- Communicate the insights: Everyone in the organization needs to be on the same page regarding these customer-centricity insights.
3. Design frictionless customer journey and promote positive perspectives
First impressions matter. And whatever the customer hears, sees, and senses about your brand shape the way they perceive you in the long haul.
For example, when shopping for a phone, the customer will form their impression of the device based on multiple interactions with your business. After journeying through your business, their ultimate irritation or satisfaction comes from an overall impression.
So how well have you embedded your brand in customer interactions? Is there continuity across the organization departments in serving the customer, especially among sales, marketing, and customer care teams?
- Establish a defined end-to-end customer experience: Take a holistic approach and incorporate aspects such as digital communication channels. That way, identifying and understanding main interaction touch points become a breeze.
- Establish a dedicated customer-experience team: These members identify opportunities and ideas that can boost customer experience. They also maintain uniform and robust customer journeys across the organization. Be sure they fit seamlessly within the organization’s fabric.
- Manage moments of truth: These are key moments in the customer journey where outstanding service delivery shape their behaviors and perceptions of life. Here’s a trick: Change employees’ behavior and actions around a limited number of main customer touchpoints crucial to offering competitive differentiation.
- Have service promises: Outline customer charters (i.e., what your customers should expect) with clear metrics. Create themes and events around them to maintain relevance.
4. Walk the talk
As top management, embrace customer orientation to boost success. You can learn from Disney:
Disney employs a leadership structure that connects results delivery to customer satisfaction. It determines satisfaction through “propensity to return” and “propensity to recommend” metrics. The company’s leaders strive to equip employees to satisfy customers, enhancing business results.
Here’s how you, too, can walk the talk:
- Model desired behaviors: As a CEO, interact with customers while showing employees the game. For example, a certain telco’s CEO listen to calls and visit customers with technicians.
- Foster understanding in your organization: Let everyone understand the impact of customer experience on the bottom line. Allow them to perform interviews with customers to identify issues that they can work on to make everyone happy.
- Reinforce new behaviors: Use financial and non-financial incentives to recognize positive behaviors. For example, an airline CEO would hand out cards to employees who exceeded their duties to help stressed passengers. Who won’t feel proud displaying these cards to friends, family, and colleagues?
5. Empower the frontline
Top management should empower frontline people. First, show them how important they are in the company. Then empower these individuals to make decisions and appreciate their efforts and feedback. Remember to walk the talk and show them how to treat customers. Also:
- Equip them with the right tools: Give them the appropriate tools and clutter-free decision-making channels. That way, they can make decisions on the fly and solve inquiries quickly.
- Reinforce single customer view (SCV): Cultivate an SCV of all customer engagement and external activity. Also, build a real customer experience roadmap to show the continuous evolution of SCV.
- Promote normal individual behavior: Even as frontline staff goes out of their way to please the customer, the behavioral change shouldn’t push them beyond their normal personality characters.
- Give room to magic moments: Unexpected, unique moments (beyond the usual services) happen when you empower individuals to unleash their creativity within a structured framework.
6. The back office should be in the game too
Customer-centricity should be the whole organization’s beating heart. It should cut across all teams- from the frontline customer service teams to the organization’s back offices. So ensure everyone is game:
- Cement a shared understanding: Everyone in the organization should grasp the customer experience even if they aren’t customer-facing.
- Encourage back office engagement: Have closely-knit working relationships among development teams, retail stores, and contact centers. That way, effective input from every department flows unhindered.
7. Set and listen to customer metrics
Customer metrics help you identify the hits and misses. It’s important to collect continuous insights from the measurements and respond appropriately.
- Tailored metrics: All metrics should align with your business goals.
- Organization-wide customer metric: For example, you can build a common goal around net customer gain.
- Align metrics to customer journey and touchpoints: This tip helps you focus accountability on experience rather than business unit or product.
You’re now a pro in customer-centricity. Right? Well, we know how hard it is so imbed customer-centricity into a business and get it right. But with continual improvement and having your ear on the ground, your organization’s innovativeness and creativity is the only limit. Remember the goal is to invest in life-long relationships with customers.