When you hear the term ‘customer-centricity’, it’s easy to become sceptical. After all, what is the purpose of a business if they aren’t serving customers?
But if you dig deeper into it, what does being customer-centric really mean? How do you know if your company is customer-centric? And how can you implement customer centricity in your own business?
These are the questions we will answer in this article. We will discuss what customer-centric means, why it’s so important, and 11 ways to test whether your company is truly customer-centered.
- What does customer-centric mean?
- Why is customer-centricity important?
- What is a customer-centric culture?
- What skills are needed to be customer-centric?
- How can I be more customer-centric?
- How do I know if my company is truly focused on the client?
- Important customer-centric metrics
- How to implement customer-centric strategies
- 3 common challenges businesses face getting to customer-centricity
- 11 ways that you can test whether a company is customer-centric or not
- Test One: Do your employees speak the same language as your customers?
- Test Two: Is your company listening to what customers are saying?
- Test Three: Is your company acting on what customers are saying?
- Test Four: Is your company empowering your customers?
- Test Five: Does your company have different ways of communicating with customers?
- Test Six: Is your company making sure that customers receive a great experience?
- Test Seven: Does your company care about customer success?
- Test Eight: Is your company focused on delivering value to customers?
- Test Nine: Does your company involve customers in the product development process?
- Test Ten: Does your company continuously improve its processes?
- Test Eleven: Does your company empower employees to be customer-centric?
- The customer-centricity paradox
What does customer-centric mean?
The definition of ‘customer-centric’ can vary depending on who you ask. But at its core, customer-centricity means putting the customer first. It’s a philosophy that is based on the idea that businesses should be designed and operated around the needs of their customers, not the other way around. It’s not just about satisfying customers or meeting their expectations – it’s about going above and beyond to create an excellent customer experience.
Customer-centricity has been around for decades, but it has been gaining popularity over the past few years as companies have begun to shift from a product-based approach (offering products that they think customers want) towards offering customer-centric experiences (offering tailored solutions based on what each individual wants).
Customer centricity in business
One of the most important things about being customer-centric is that it forces businesses to interact with their customers on the customer’s terms, not just the business’ own. It means that instead of pushing products or services on to prospective buyers, you are giving them options and allowing them to come to you.
It requires a company to know what its target audience wants. This involves reaching out directly through any number of channels – including social media, surveys, interviews, and focus groups – to figure out what customers are looking for.
Once you have a good understanding of your target audience’s wants and needs, it becomes much easier to create products or services that appeal to them.
Why is customer-centricity important?
Nowadays, more and more customers are looking for customer-centric businesses. They want to be treated as individuals, not just another cog in the wheel of a larger company’s machine.
Having access to so many different companies means that customers have options, especially regarding how they interact with brands in-person. With instant access to online reviews, customers can easily compare customer service, prices, and product offerings from different businesses.
In this environment, it’s more important than ever for businesses to focus on customer-centricity if they want to stay competitive.
What is a customer-centric culture?
A customer-centric culture is one in which the company’s employees are focused on providing great customer service. It’s a workplace where every employee – from the CEO to the sales team – puts the customer first and strives to create an experience that is unique to them.
Creating a customer-centric culture can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. It starts with hiring the right employees, training them on the company’s philosophy and values, and then giving them the tools they need to succeed.
What skills are needed to be customer-centric?
Some skills are needed to be successful in customer-centric businesses. The most important ones are empathy, communication, and problem-solving.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It’s what allows you to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see things from their perspective.
Communication is another important skill. It includes verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as listening skills. Being able to communicate with customers effectively will help you learn what they want or need, even if it’s something that isn’t explicitly stated (for example, knowing how much information the customer wants about a product before being prompted for more information).
Problem-solving skills are also essential. As a customer-centric business, you will inevitably encounter problems and challenges. It’s important to be able to come up with creative solutions that meet the needs of both the customer and the company.
How can I be more customer-centric?
There are many ways that you can be more customer-centric in your business. The most important thing is to put the customer first and make them the focus of your efforts.
If you’re having trouble becoming more customer-centric, or if you want to make sure your company is truly focused on the client, there are several things you can do:
- Start by learning about your target audience. What do they want and need? How can you give them what they’re looking for?
- Make customer service a top priority. Train your employees on how to provide great customer service and make sure they are equipped to handle any situation that may come up.
- Create a culture of customer service. Encourage your employees to think about the customer first and put their needs above everything else.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest trends in customer service. Use technology to help you connect with your customers and make it easy for them to interact with your brand.
- Make sure your products and services meet the needs of your target audience. Understand what they want and need, and find ways to exceed their expectations.
These should help you create a customer-centric business. But don’t forget that it’s not just about what you do; it’s also about how you do it. Make sure your customers feel appreciated and valued, and show them that you care about their satisfaction.
How do I know if my company is truly focused on the client?
Several signs can show whether your company has truly become more customer-centric:
- Employees ask “how” and not just “what”. They want to understand why customers need certain information or access, and how they can help them.
- The customer is always the focus of change initiatives. Whether it’s a new product or a change in process, everything is done with the customer in mind.
- There are systems in place to track and measure customer feedback. Employees are encouraged to listen to customers and act on their feedback.
- Employees are empowered to make decisions and solve problems. They have the authority they need to act for customers, even if it means going against the status quo.
- The customer is viewed as a partner who can help improve products or services in meaningful ways. By asking for feedback and suggestions from customers, you will learn what they like or don’t like, and you can use that information to create better products.
These are just a few signs of customer-centricity in your business; it’s important not to get discouraged if you’re having trouble finding success. Customer-centered businesses take time and effort to build, but the results will be worth all the hard work.
Important customer-centric metrics
Hundreds of companies use customer-centricity as a guiding principle for how they run their business. They all have different ways of measuring success, and it’s important to know what metrics you need to measure before you can determine whether your business is more customer-centric than others.
One of the most common metrics is using the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This is a metric that rates the likelihood of customers to recommend your business. It’s important to know which customers are promoters and which ones are detractors.
Your company might be customer-centric but still have a negative NPS score if most of your promoters are coming from one part of the business and all of your detractors are from another.
Customer Satisfaction, or CSAT, is another important metric because it tells you how customers feel about your business in general, not just when they are using the product or service themselves.
You can also track Customer Effort Score (CES) to determine how much friction customers feel when interacting with your business. Customers with less friction tend to be more satisfied and happy, so it’s important to know which parts of your business are causing high levels of effort for customers.
Customer-centric businesses know what their key metrics are and they track them constantly to make sure that the business is meeting customer expectations.
If you’re finding that a lot of customers are unhappy or leaving, it’s likely because they don’t feel like you’re putting them first. Reviewing these important metrics will help you determine whether your company is customer-centric or not.
How to implement customer-centric strategies
Now you know that customer-centricity is a philosophy and approach to business that puts the customer front and centre, it’s time to dive into the customer-centric strategies that help achieve this.
So what does a customer-centric business strategy look like? Well, it looks similar across different sectors and industries, though some variations exist depending on the specific company, customer base, and product or service that they offer.
Customer-centric strategies are built upon three core elements:
Listening to your customers
This is where you start from the beginning by understanding what your customers want and need. Then you design or redesign your products and services around their needs. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. You can also use a variety of tools to analyse your customers’ behaviour.
Focusing on customer experience
This is about how the customer feels when they interact with a company, whether that’s in person at an event or through their website and social media channels. It also means ensuring that everyone within a business has the same approach to putting the customer first, from HR to marketing to customer service.
Creating a community around your brand
This is where you encourage customers to connect with the company, whether through social media or special events. This helps create loyalty to the brand and can also help spread positive word-of-mouth.
Customer-centricity is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so the strategies used by businesses to become more customer-centric will vary. However, there are some general sales, marketing, and product strategies that all customer-centric businesses should consider.
Customer-centric sales strategies
A customer-centric sales strategy is all about putting the needs of your customers first. It can be difficult to implement, but it’s worth it in the long run. If you’re looking for ways to improve your sales strategy, here are a few tips that will help you get started.
- Developing a deep understanding of your customers – this is where you go beyond just understanding what they want and need, but delving into their motivations, challenges, and goals. This helps you personalise your interactions with them and create a more meaningful connection.
- Building a relationship with customers – this is all about creating trust and loyalty with your customers over time by providing them with valuable content, insights, and offers. It also means being there for them when they need you (which can be before, during, or after the sale).
- Focusing on customer retention – as mentioned earlier, it’s cheaper and more profitable to keep current customers than to acquire new ones. This is why retention should be a key focus of any sales strategy. There are many tactics you can use to achieve this, such as offering customer loyalty programmes, providing excellent customer service, and keeping track of customer behaviour so you can anticipate their needs.
Regarding sales, putting the customer first is always the best strategy. By taking the time to understand your customers and build strong relationships with them, you’ll be able to increase sales and profits in the long run. So focus on customer retention, provide excellent service, and personalise your interactions – and watch your business grow!
Customer-centric marketing strategies
Marketing is all about creating relationships with customers and building loyalty. To do this, businesses need to adopt a customer-centric approach. This means putting the customer first and making their needs the top priority. There are many different marketing strategies that you can use to be more customer-centric, but here are some of the most important ones.
- Creating valuable content – this is one of the most important aspects of customer-centric marketing. It’s about creating content that is interesting, relevant, and useful to your customers. This helps you build trust and loyalty with them over time, and makes it more likely that they will become repeat customers or refer you to others.
- Connecting with your audience – this is where you use different marketing channels to connect and engage with a variety of customer groups, whether that’s through social media, email newsletters, events like webinars and meetups, etc. The key here is to do whatever it takes (for as long as it takes) to connect with your target customers.
- Reaching customers on their terms – as customer preferences and habits change, so too should your marketing strategy. This means personalising campaigns to an individual level or even creating tailored offers based upon a person’s previous purchases.
When done correctly, customer-centric marketing can be a powerful way to build loyalty and create long-term relationships with customers. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your marketing strategy, start by focusing on your customers and putting their needs first.
Customer-centric product strategies
Sales and Marketing can survive without being completely customer-centric, but product strategies MUST be customer-centric to succeed. This means that the product team must always put themselves in the customer’s shoes, and ask themselves how they can improve the customer experience with every decision they make.
Achieving customer-centricity through product strategies usually starts with the CEO and CTO, but must involve input from all parts of the company – including design, engineering, ops, and marketing. The goal is to have everyone working together to create a product strategy that meets customer needs both now and in the future.
There are three key ways to create a customer-centric product strategy: understand your customers, design for them, and involve them in the process.
Understand your customers
The first step in creating a customer-centric product strategy is to understand your customers. This includes understanding their needs, wants, and frustrations. You can do this by studying your customer data, conducting interviews and focus groups, and using customer feedback channels like surveys and feedback forms.
Design for them
The second step is to design your products for your customers. This means designing a customer experience that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. You can do this by using customer journey maps, designing prototypes, and conducting user research.
Involve them in the process
The third step is to involve your customers in the product development process. This means giving them a voice and letting them help shape the product. You can do this by using customer feedback channels, beta testing, and co-creation workshops.
The best way to create a customer-centric product strategy is to use all three of these methods together. This will ensure that you have a deep understanding of your customers, that your products are designed for them, and that they have a voice in the development process.
3 common challenges businesses face getting to customer-centricity
There are three common challenges businesses face when trying to become customer-centric: Lack of leadership commitment, lack of customer-centric culture, and siloed organisational structures.
Lack of leadership commitment
Many times, the top executives in a company don’t truly buy into the idea of customer-centricity. They may see it as a passing trend or something that is only necessary for certain industries. As a result, these executives don’t make customer-centricity a priority and the rest of the organisation falls behind.
Solution: Customer Experience KPIs. One way to overcome this challenge is to tie customer-centricity metrics to management roles and rewards. This creates a sense of ownership among executives and makes it clear that customer-centricity is a key priority for the company.
Lack of customer-centric culture
Even if leadership is on board with customer-centricity, the company may not have the right culture to support it. When employees aren’t rewarded for customer-centric behaviours or aren’t held accountable when they don’t meet customer needs, the culture will eventually kill any attempts at customer-centricity.
Solution: Employee feedback and engagement surveys. These can be used to identify where customer-centricity is being encouraged and rewarded, as well as areas that are falling short.
Siloed organisational structures
Customer experience is the responsibility of everyone in an organisation, but often the different departments within a company focus on their own objectives instead of working towards the overall goal. When each department focuses only on itself, this can create conflict and tension between teams and make it difficult for the organisation to be customer-centric.
Solution: Cross-functional teams. The best way to solve these challenges is by creating cross-functional teams. Having people from different areas work together ensures that the focus of customer-centricity can be maintained at all levels in an organisation.
These challenges are not insurmountable, but they do require a concerted effort from leadership and the entire organisation to overcome. With the right tools and processes in place, any company can become customer-centric and reap the benefits that come with it.
11 ways that you can test whether a company is customer-centric or not
If you’re looking to determine if your company is customer-centric or not, there are several ways to do so. Here are eleven tests that you can use to help get a sense of how focused your business is on your customer:
Test One: Do your employees speak the same language as your customers?
One way to test customer-centricity is by looking at how employees speak to customers. Do they use jargon or terminology that the customer doesn’t understand? Or do they explain things in a way that the customer can easily follow?
Test Two: Is your company listening to what customers are saying?
Another indicator of customer-centricity is whether your company is listening to what customers are saying. Do you have mechanisms in place for collecting customer feedback? Are you using it to make changes and improvements to your products and services?
Test Three: Is your company acting on what customers are saying?
If you’re listening to customers but not acting, that’s a strong indication that your company is not customer-centric. Make sure to act on what customers are saying to improve the experience of using your services and products.
Test Four: Is your company empowering your customers?
Do you give customers a voice in how certain things happen within the business, or do you make unilateral decisions without considering what customers want? Customers should feel empowered within the company, and customer-centric companies understand this fact.
Test Five: Does your company have different ways of communicating with customers?
Does your business communicate in a way that’s different than how you communicate with other businesses or team members internally? If so, it might indicate that your company is not customer-centric.
Test Six: Is your company making sure that customers receive a great experience?
Customer-centric companies make sure that customers have a great experience, no matter what. This means going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction – whether it’s how employees interact with them or the products and services being provided.
Test Seven: Does your company care about customer success?
Another way of testing customer-centricity is by looking at whether the company cares about customer success. Do you have a plan in place for ensuring that customers are successful with your products and services? Or do you simply expect them to figure it out on their own?
Test Eight: Is your company focused on delivering value to customers?
To be customer-centric, a company needs to be focused on delivering value to customers. This means that the business is always looking for ways to improve its products and services to provide more value to those who use them.
Test Nine: Does your company involve customers in the product development process?
Customer-centric companies often involve customers during the product development process, which means that they are constantly looking for ways to improve their products and services. This includes asking them what features or changes they would like to see made to existing items, as well as coming up with new products and services based on customer feedback.
Test Ten: Does your company continuously improve its processes?
Customer-centric companies are always looking for ways to improve their processes, as this enables them to provide a better experience for customers. This might mean making changes to the way things are done or simply refining how things are currently being done.
Test Eleven: Does your company empower employees to be customer-centric?
To be truly customer-centric, it’s not just the company that needs to be focused on the customer – employees also need to be on board. This means empowering them to take care of customers in whatever way they see fit. If your company is doing this, it’s a strong indication that you’re customer-centric.
If your company is not customer-centric, don’t fret – there are things you can do to change that. By following the tips above, you can start to make the shift and become more focused on those who matter most: your customers.
The customer-centricity paradox
Trying to be customer-centric can seem like a paradox. On the one hand, you want your customers to feel valued and appreciated by the company they do business with. At the same time, businesses need to focus on their bottom line and generate profits to survive. It’s easy for these two goals to seem at odds with each other.
But being customer-centric does not mean sacrificing profits. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – customer-centric businesses often see an increase in their bottom line. The key is to find a way to balance the two goals so that both are achieved.
How can you do this? By following the tips in this article, you can start to make the shift towards being customer-centric and see the benefits it brings to your business.
There’s no one right way to become customer-centric; every business is different. But there are a few general tips that can help any company make the shift.
- Focus on the customer. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get bogged down in day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the customer. Make sure you’re always keeping them in mind and looking for ways to improve their experience.
- Empower employees. As mentioned earlier, the customer is the most important part of any business. Without customers, there won’t be a need for your products or services – and without employees, you wouldn’t have those products or services in the first place. By empowering them to act as advocates for both themselves and their customers, you can create an environment where all are focused on providing excellent service.
- Listen to feedback. Customer feedback is one of the best ways to understand what customers want and need. Make sure you’re listening to it (and responding) promptly.
- Create a customer-centric culture. This means creating an environment where employees are encouraged and rewarded for taking care of customers. It also means making customer satisfaction a top priority.
- Be transparent. Customers want to know what’s going on with their favourite brands, and they don’t appreciate being kept in the dark. Transparency builds trust, which is essential for any relationship, including the one between business and customer.
The bottom line? If you’re looking to improve your business, focus on becoming customer-centric. It may not be the easiest shift to make, but in time you’ll see just how valuable it is to both customers and your company’s bottom line.