What Does it Mean to Be Customer-Centric?
Most companies would claim to be customer-centric, but what does the term really mean?
Today’s consumers have plenty of options and are more informed than ever. When given a choice, they’ll choose companies that offer great service and put customers’ needs first.
According to a 2018 study on customer experience from PwC, 42% of customers are willing to pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience, and 65% said that a positive experience was more influential than advertising. On the other hand, 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
Clearly, customer experience can have a massive impact on a business’s profitability. Being customer-centric can help you provide the level of service that customers demand.
So what is customer-centricity, and what are the benefits of this approach?
What is Customer-Centricity?
Customer-centric businesses put customers’ needs at the center of everything they do. They aim to maximize the value of each customer and align products and services with customer needs.
Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage, talks about the difference between being product-centric vs customer-centric. Product-centric companies, he claims, treat all customers equally and aim to sell to as many people as possible.
In contrast, customer-centric organizations want to attract and retain customers with a high lifetime value. They focus on customer service, both as a way to increase customer lifetime value and learn more about their customers’ needs.
What are the Benefits of a Customer-Centric Approach?
Every business must attract customers and increase retention rates in order to survive and grow.
In today’s market, top-quality service can be a key differentiator that helps companies stand out against their competition.
Here are some of the benefits of taking a customer-centric approach.
Build What People Want
Understanding your customers' desires and problems can help you create the product or service that answers those needs.
The more you learn about your customers, the more you can tailor your product to them, and customer service teams can provide a more personalized and effective service.
Boost Loyalty and Referrals
Great customer service makes customers happy and helps them get more value from your product.
This makes them more likely to stay with your brand long-term, meaning you’ll see reduced churn rates.
Customers who receive excellent service are much more likely to recommend your company to people they know. In fact, a survey found that 97% of customers who rated their customer service experience as “very good” or “excellent” would recommend that company to family and friends.
Discover Your High-Value Customers
Customer-centric companies focus on attracting and nurturing customers with high LTV (lifetime value). Centering your customers and learning more about them enables you to identify and prioritize high-value customers.
Getting to know your customers with the highest LTV will help you retain them and attract more.
Should Every Company Be Customer-Centric?
It’s always a good idea for brands to value their customers’ needs, however, many companies are not customer-centric.
For example, utility companies are not usually customer-centric because they provide services that everyone needs, and deal with high volumes of customers. They are less concerned about losing individual customers.
Brands that serve the masses, such as Starbucks and McDonalds, tend not to be customer-centric because they cater to such a large and generic audience.
Is Apple customer-centric? Not really - rather than tailoring products to their customers' needs and desires, they seek to shape consumer preferences.
Not every company needs to be customer-centric to thrive, but customer-centricity can be the differentiator that makes people choose you over the competition.
How to be More Customer-Centric
Customer centricity involves every department in an organization, but it begins with the customer service team.
Here are some tips to help customer service teams take a more customer-centric approach.
Gather Customer Data
The more you learn about your customers, the easier it will be to offer a bespoke, high-quality service that focuses on their goals.
By gathering data about their behavior, preferences, desires, and needs, you can start to anticipate future needs and problems. You’ll also start to recognize the characteristics of high LTV customers.
Listen to Customers
As well as collecting data, you also need to tune in to what customers are telling you. Customer service teams are in an ideal position to collect customer feedback as they are on the front line, dealing with complaints and questions every day.
Communicate with customers through a variety of channels and keep a record of what customers are saying about your product or service. This feedback can help the organization improve processes and the product to better serve the customer. Both positive and negative feedback is valuable.
Make sure that customer feedback and data that you collect translate into action.
Aim for a feedback loop that results in continuous improvement of your product or service. Make sure there is communication and transparency between customer service teams and other departments.
Customer data and feedback should inform not only product development but marketing and sales approaches as well.
Companies that are not customer-centric are difficult to get in touch with. They make it hard for customers to contact them because they don’t want to devote resources to answering customer queries.
To be customer-centric, make sure your customers can easily access your support team, and can choose from a variety of communication methods, including phone call, email, chat and more.
When customers reach out to you, get back to them as soon as possible.Aim for fast response times by email or instant messaging, and don’t leave customers waiting on hold for long periods.
Take a Proactive Approach
You don’t always have to wait for problems to arise before you take action. Customer service teams can reach out to customers, especially high-value ones, proactively.
Learn to spot certain warning signs which may indicate that customers are not getting value from your product, such as low usage. Reach out with a phone call or email to intervene and help your customer get back on track.
You can also provide them with resources and guides to help them get the most out of your product or service.
Create a Customer-Centric Culture
For an organization to become customer-centric, it needs to bake customer-centricity into the company culture. Make it a core value for everyone at your organization, and emphasize the importance of treating customers well at every level.
When hiring, look for team members who are customer-oriented and understand the importance of being customer-centric.
Customer service analytics can help you collect valuable data about your customer service performance, and use that information to improve your performance.
With a tool like Miuros, you can deep dive into customer service data and make informed decisions that will increase customer satisfaction. You’ll be able to speed up the reviewing and quality assurance process, to help your agents deliver amazing customer service, consistently.
Putting Your Customers First
Being customer-centric is about your mindset and your actions. Putting customers at the center of everything you do will help you attract and retain high-value customers that are more likely to recommend your brand to others.
Find out how Miuros can help customer service teams leverage data to learn and improve, and give their customers the treatment they deserve.