What is Customer Centricity?
Customer centricity means putting the customer first and at the center of everything that you do. You might think to yourself, “That’s easy – I can do that.” But is it really that simple?
Being customer-centric entails more than just saying the customer is top of mind. It is about truly understanding the customer – so you can anticipate their wants and needs, understand their communication preferences, create meaningful experiences, and build lasting relationships with them. And that is easier said than done.
Customer-centric organizations take steps to understand the customer and act on that understanding by creating a culture that empowers employees to make the best decisions for both the customer and the company in parallel. They take into account how each business decision, process change, and customer point of contact affect the overarching customer experience.
All in all, customer-centricity is as much a strategy as a culture. It has to be ingrained in an organization to be recognized by the final decision maker: the customer.
Customer centricity – often abbreviated CX – is traditionally thought of as 6 main concepts continuously interacting with and informing each other.
- Understanding your customer – As cliche as it may sound, walking a mile in your customer’s shoes is the only way to achieve empathy and, ultimately, understanding. From the very first consideration to the deal-closing handshake – how does it feel to be a customer of your company?
- Design the experience – Audit, edit, and improve your customer point of contact. Always from their point of view.
- Customer-focused leadership – The leaders at your company must embody a customer-centric mindset. If leadership isn’t on board, you will never achieve alignment – we all know it starts at the top.
- Empower the front line – Give your workforce the tools, autonomy, and feedback they need to put your customers first.
- Metrics that matter – Data is the most powerful tool of our time. But only if it is relevant and actionable.
- Feedback drives continuous improvement – To be customer-centric, you must be ready, willing, and able to iterate based on the feedback you receive from your customers.
Why is Customer Centricity Important?
People buy from people they trust. The ultimate payoff for customer-centric organizations is that loyal customers spend more over time. They are also more forgiving of minor trespasses because there is a sense of trust that the organization will take care of the customer in the long run. As soon as you lose that trust you risk losing that customer forever.
conXpros has become a leader in the home improvement lead generation services space largely due to its customer-centric approach to doing business. Across all of our points of contact with our customers, we keep one thing in mind – how does it feel to be our customer right now? One of the initiatives that we are most proud of is our lead credit policy. Providing our customers with quality, genuine opportunities is the bread and butter of our business. If a customer doesn’t feel that we met that standard – we make it right.
Again, it all comes down to trust. We can all think of a company or brand that we actually enjoy doing business with (a.k.a. giving our money to) – right? Why is that? Because we trust that at the end of the day they have our best interest in mind and will do the right thing.
That’s customer centricity.
Who is Doing Customer Centricity Right?
The results of taking the customer into account should show up on the bottom line.
Good Technology, a B2B mobile solutions company, had marketing efforts that they could see were performing. However, it was becoming more difficult to predict how those efforts would convert into their sales pipeline – a sign that the buyer had taken control of their buying journey. So they decided to take a closer look at their customer experience.
To start, the initiative was related directly to improving their marketing efforts. Julie Gibbs, Vice President, Marketing and Communications and Good Technology, explained, “We, as vendors, wanted to really look at how we are approaching our communications and marketing, including after-market communications, with our customers to improve them and make them more relevant.”
To begin, strategically and comprehensively interviewed over 30 customers to better understand their experience with Good Technology. The company found that customers were receptive to the process and reported feeling a sense of “relationship, partnership, and goodwill.” From there, Good Technology began the process of analyzing the data, performing a gap analysis, and taking action on their learnings.
Throughout the process, other departments took notice and began performing their own customer-centric audits. What started as an exercise to improve their marketing efforts turned into a company-wide assessment of how they can better serve their customers – at all points in their journey.
The result? Across-the-board 30x increase in marketing ROI, 130% improvement in lead quality responses, and a 40x increase in conversion rates.
How To Create a Customer-Centric Strategy for Your Business
Getting buy-in and building a culture
What’s the one thing customer-centric organizations have in common? Customer-centricity is a core value. Every employee is focused on the customer and puts the customer first in their thinking and decision-making.
Culture is not something that is forced or easily changed. It doesn’t necessarily translate directly from plan to action. It requires everyone from executives on down to embrace the change that customer-centricity brings. Everyone has to want to believe, execute, and succeed. At times, it may require taking a leap of faith (albeit a guided leap) centered on a longer-term vision and focusing on more than just the bottom line.
Making your data and technology work for you
Digital transformation means a successful data management strategy to support customer-centricity is more important now than ever. Customers are making purchase decisions prior to engaging with a salesperson due to the availability of information.
Web chats, online product reviews, and social media create additional channels for customers to learn about and experience brands – and for brands to learn about and understand their customers and what customers expect when they work with you. But only if they manage the data correctly. With more channels at play and more applications in the mix, technology must be an enabler, not a detraction.
Data is often the biggest challenge when it comes to knowing who your customers are and understanding what they want. In many companies, data is unorganized, siloed, duplicated and generally unactionable. No matter how messy it is, data holds the key to understanding your customers, anticipating their wants and needs, and interacting with them in an authentic, relevant manner. It can help marketers, sellers, and customer service reps personalize communications and empathize with the customer.
Getting control of your data – centralizing it, cleaning it, enriching it, governing it – and making it actionable go a long way in delivering customer-centricity.
Follow proven best practices for implementation
When developing and implementing a customer-centric strategy at your company, keep in mind these best practices to help you achieve your vision:
- Build a customer-centric culture – Build it into your mission, vision, and values. Ensure every employee – from the CEO to the frontline worker – lives and breathes, “the customer.”
- Capture customer feedback – Gain a better understanding of your customers by really listening to what they want and need. Check out our post about utilizing technology to bolster your reputation management efforts – this is a treasure trove of customer insights.
- Improve your data – Improve data quality, consistency, and availability to help everyone in the organization identify and understand the customer at every stage of the journey. Too often, data is an underutilized asset because of the erosion of quality and the difficulty of using it. Data can be leveraged to better understand your customers and help improve how to serve them.
- Reward employees – Tie employee compensation, recognition, and reward structures directly to meeting the needs of the customer. Build trust within your employee base and empower them to think customer first.
- Think long-term – A long-lasting customer is more valuable over time than a single transaction. By making a customer feel heard and valued, those long-term relationships with your customers will result in loyalty and retention – and ultimately greater revenue. This is truly where customer centricity has an impact on your bottom line.