A company’s success in achieving customer-centricity and customer loyalty is no longer a differentiator. But, it has become a matter of survival. Customer experience is continually evolving as technology and customer demands change. Just because a company was once customer-centric doesn’t mean it still is in 2021. Many companies aim to be customer-focused but, struggle to know what it actually looks like and how to truly make customers the center of their businesses.
The world has evolved so fast that customers today are in more control over businesses than ever before. Their needs determine how they shop, who they shop with and where they carry out transactions — online, offline, both. Customers today dictate how brands shape their customer experience, as well as the sales funnel, marketing efforts and many more. With the changes in customer aspirations, the main challenge is, how to redefine business operations in every industry to be more customer-centric, tailor-made around the needs of customers. At the end, customer centricity improves also financial performance and provides a competitive advantage.
Lead by purpose and treat your company culture as an asset
Culture drives performance. There’s no customer-centric culture if it’s not lived by employees. Values are meaningless unless they inspire and drive the behavior employees and executives are expected to display. In other words, your core values mean nothing if everyone in the company doesn’t live by them.
Companies that are customer-centric should employ staff that is empathic and focused on customer needs. Therefore, you should make the customer’s needs a core value of your company before hiring employees who would be expected to uphold this value. Make it clear before they’re hired that they’ll be expected to understand what the customer needs are and develop ideas targeted at realizing them. They should believe in bringing true value to clients rather than offer lip service. From start to finish, they should live and breathe the concept of customer-centricity. Hiring for culture fit is important to getting the customer-centric culture you want. You’ve got to get the right people on the bus. The people whose values and purpose align with your company’s value and purpose. Hire for attitude, train for skill.
However, true customer-centricity starts at the top. The most customer-centric leaders set the example to ingrain a customer focus into the culture and make customers central to every decision the company makes. One part of building a customer-centric company is valuing your customers; the other part is valuing your employees. In addition to fostering meaningful and empathetic relationships with your customers, you have to extend that empathy and care to your team as well.
Many times it is critical for leaders and employees to understand that they do have a customer – it just might be an internal one. That doesn’t make the customer experience they provide is any less important, because before a company can deliver a great experience to its external customers, it must first deliver a great experience to its internal ones. To foster a customer-centric culture, business leaders must impress upon their workforce this simple, fundamental truth: No matter what title you possess or what position you hold, there are only two roles in the organization – you’re either serving the customer, or you’re serving someone else who does. Period.
Focus on personalization
These days, people are constantly bombarded by all kinds of information, be it TV commercials, emails, social media and hundreds of brands clamoring for their attention nonstop. So it’s only natural that we’d tune out most of that, especially what we don’t find personally relevant to us. This means that if you’re trying to reach out to your audience with generic, impersonal content, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage them and encourage them to stay with you in the long run.
Personalization is at the heart of customer-centricity. When a company is wholly focused on customers, it wants to deliver unique experiences to each person instead of one-size-fits-all solutions. Talking to them directly, with laser focus on what they like and are naturally interested in, is your best bet to win them over. KPMG research shows when customer obsessed brands personalize customer experiences, drive greater loyalty and share of wallet. Personalization means interacting with your audience and customers in a way that feels personal and human, taking into consideration their likes, preferences and interests.
Unfortunately, Gartner Says 63% of Digital Marketing Leaders Still Struggle with Personalization. Part of the problem is that digital marketing leaders are still scaling their use of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to align with their customer acquisition and retention goals. Gartner’s survey revealed that only 17% are using AI/ML broadly across the marketing function. On the other side, by McKinseys & Company experience organizations see a revenue increase of 30 percent or more from adoption of a needs-based approach when personalizing and proactively reaching out to customers at the right time with the right offering.
It is important to know your consumers and their behaviour. Because consumers today are choosing businesses who take the time to know them and who care about their needs. That’s why customer-first strategy is centered around customers and provides a suite of services, products and experiences that surprise and delight, foster loyalty, and boost lifetime value. Digital disruption and rising customer expectations are creating unforgiving markets where loyalty is hard won and easily lost. KPMG research shows when a customer is loyal to a brand 86 percent will recommend a company to friends and family, 66 percent are likely to write a positive online review after a good experience, and 46 percent will remain loyal even after a bad experience, and many more.
Improve your customer experience by using customer intelligence
To succeed in the era of customer empowerment, companies must undergo a continual digital transformation to create digital solutions for their internal and external customers, tear down silos and use technology to solve everyday problems. When done well, digital transformation creates an agile company that can best meet customers’ needs. Companies shouldn’t undergo digital transformation simply to say they’ve done it or to adopt the flashiest technology; real digital transformation is rooted in solving customer problems and delivering a consistently high-quality experience. Through the right technological infrastructure, you can collate all the valuable customer data to create various customer segments. These segmentations can be formed based on their demography and behaviors. After segmentation, it becomes easier for you to target customers for tech-touchpoints and personalized marketing communications.
There has never been more customer data available than there is today, and customer-centric companies use that data to paint an accurate picture of their customers. Some organizations may scratch the surface of data, but truly customer-centric brands use it to proactively serve customers. Predictive analytics can pinpoint when a customer is most in need of a product or service or when they might require changes or additional service. It’s at these moments that the best companies step in to offer support before customers even realize they need it. Customer-centric companies aren’t just focused on putting out fires or addressing concerns customers have with their products—they proactively aim to create positive experiences, recommend products and solve problems before they become larger issues.
In today’s market, on-demand experiences are everywhere, interwoven across every facet of our daily lives, and are becoming expected. The brands that are the most successful obsess over the target customer experience. They steer every aspect of that experience by developing an outside-in strategy and anticipating and predicting the needs of their target customers through better data and analytics. A customer-focused digital transformation shifts the mindset of the entire company to solve problems with digital solutions. In today’s world of technology, companies have to continually transform to stay relevant.
Remember: Customer perception is reality. The quality of your customer experience lives in one place: the mind of your customer. No matter how well you think you’re doing, the gap between customer expectations of experience and their perceptions of actual experience is the reality you need to understand and address. If you can’t deliver what your customers want, when and where they want it, they will go to someone who can. Experience is the greatest teacher. But no marketer has the time to gather enough experience by themself. That’s why there are services like Behaviour Exchange that help you make sense of available data and help you utilize it to develop a winning strategy.