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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?
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.
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.
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.
Tom is the co-founder of TRACX, a no-code marketing platform that allows local business owners to collect customer feedback and create engaging marketing campaigns. With over 17 years of experience in entrepreneurship, product development, and marketing for businesses large and small, Tom is currently responsible for developing product and marketing strategies for TRACX.