It’s easy to say your business is customer-centric; in fact, many businesses would claim they are putting their customers at the heart of what they do.
But the truth is, most of them are not really focused on delighting customers — because becoming customer-centric takes more than sitting in on team meetings, sending customer surveys, or putting up motivational posters on walls.
Insight: Customer expectations are rising at a rapid pace. Brands who can’t keep up will end up losing.
Data: By the year 2020, a majority of buying decisions in B2B will be based on customer experience (Walker 2016). But companies are not keeping up; only 14% of marketers reported that customer-centricity is “a hallmark of their companies” (CMO Council 2018).
Key Action Point: Read the overview of Ashton Bishop’s tips on how to become a customer-centric organisation. (At the end of this article is an invitation to join the Step Change Customer-Centricity Masterclass, and we’d love for you to be there.)
What Does a Customer-Centric Organisation Looks Like?
A customer-centric organisation places the customer at the heart of the business and puts a premium on customer experience to satisfy or surpass their expectation.
It’s the deep adoption of seeing the person behind the moniker customer and maximising the value customers receive while removing any obstacle that reduces the ease of interaction.
Here are some high-level tips in order to become genuinely customer-centric.
Check Values and Alignment
Why are you doing this? Are you simply following a trend, or is it an organisation value worth pursuing? What measures have you put in place so you’d know you’re winning?
Pre-Commit to a Timeline
Customer-centric turnarounds generally take a while, and it’s multi-faceted. It takes investing in time, money, and focus for the long haul. Can you look beyond next quarter? Do you have the stomach for the long game?
Collect the Data
Use customer data to build a picture that allows you to know who you’re really selling for and determine what value will look like in the future.
Map the Journey
When it comes to customer experience across marketing, sales, product, and sales journey, what do you want your customers to see, hear, touch, taste, and feel?
The key is not to try to fix everything: just look for one or two key moments in the customer journey that you have a disproportionate ability to surprise and delight a customer.
Look for Insights
Being able to identify customer needs is crucial as it allows you to develop products or services that truly solves customer’s pain points. With this regard, have you idenitfied methodologies that will help you pinpoint your customers’ unstated or emerging needs?
Research shows that customers are willing to pay more for products and services that offer a positive experience. So think about ways your company can surprise and delight them. Figure out how you can redesign your product and how your customers experience it. Simplify the path to purchase and remove any friction along the way.
Elevate Internal Culture
Your internal culture needs to be designed to better serve your customers.
Brand expert Denise Lee Yohn wrote in Harvard Business Review, “The most common, and perhaps the greatest barrier to customer-centricity is a lack of a customer-centric organisational culture.”
If your staff don’t feel supported, connected, safe, and engaged, the probability that your customer experience is going to be any better than that just doesn’t happen. So have a deeper look within your culture: Does it reflect an obsession with delighting your customers? Or does it remain product-focused or sales-driven?
Forrester’s survey on customer experience revealed that 75% of organisations don’t use informal rewards and celebrations to highlight exemplary customer-centric behaviour and 79% don’t connect formal reward structures on customer experience metrics.
Have a careful look at your business. Are your incentives, recruitment, recognition, rewards and retrenchment supporting or undermining customer-centricity?
Empower Your People
Customer-centricity begins with employee-centricity. Research by Profiles International shows that organisations lose $350 billion due to employee disengagement — or what they called “anti-customer-centric culture.”
Your customer engagement will never exceed your staff engagement. Your people, especially those at the frontlines, are the bastions and guardians of customer experience.
Embed Feedback Loops
Poor customer experience can lead to a loss of billions of dollars each year. In addition to this, customers are twice as likely to talk about their negative experience with a brand than a positive one. To avoid this predicament, organisations need to listen to what their customers are saying.
The Voice of the Customer is an in-depth process for getting customers’ feedback about their experience with your services and capturing their needs, preferences, and aspirations and embedding these into the fabric of your organisation.
Cascade Up and Down
When your organisation is looking to become customer-focused, all levels should be aligned and engaged — from the board level, director level, executive level, and staff level. You need to ensure that this is a conversation to action at all levels (knowledge, will, skill)?
Pipeline Your Innovation
You need to learn and log feedback points so that your culture, your pipeline, your innovation, your product, your service are moving with the customers and leading them. You want to be slightly leading or heading customers because customers choose today who they think is going to be heading the future.