Companies are continually trying to find new ways to become more customer-centric, and the results speak for themselves. Research from Deloitte and Touche shows that customer-centric companies are up to 60% more profitable than competitors. Creating a genuinely customer-centric culture is no easy task and requires building a comprehensive strategy with buy-in from every department and team.
The goal of a customer-centric strategy should be to prioritize the customer experience. It goes beyond any individual interaction and must include the entire scope of a customer’s journey with your brand. A well-designed customer-centric strategy will review the necessary steps before, during, and after a product or service is purchased. Developing a customer-centric culture is the best way to make your changes permanent.
1. Regularly Collect Customer Feedback
Listening to customer feedback can help your team members and your company as a whole better understand your customers' needs and how they change over time. You can start by creating engaging surveys to share after important interactions. The possibilities are nearly endless, and you can ask a wide range of questions to help you define what customer-centric means for your particular audience.
2. Hire Employees with the Right Mindset
A customer-centric team should understand how to put customer needs first and embody the behaviors that genuinely help customers. During your interview process, try to ask at least one question that enables you to understand the candidate's customer orientation. Some people seem to have a customer-centric and service-oriented mindset built into how they think. Others lack essential soft skills, like empathy and patience, that are necessary for a customer-centric culture.
3. Use Customer Data Effectively
Making data-based decisions rooted in facts and not opinions can drastically improve your chances of success on your customer-centric journey. A good rule-of-thumb is to focus on collecting better data, rather than merely striving to collect as much data as possible.
Many customer service, support, and experience metrics are difficult to measure and can overlap in many respects. Therefore, it's helpful to focus on the metrics and data that represent customer behaviors and provide a clear picture of your ability to fulfill customer needs. One final point is to distribute your data widely among the organization so that everyone can share in the vision as well as celebrate the progress.
4. Invest in Ongoing Customer Service Training
Training customer service resources in a customer-centric company should involve a lot of focus on the concept of empathy. When your service agents can empathize with the customer’s position, they will genuinely want to make the situation better. A training program that reinforces complementary skills like active listening and how to ask thoughtful questions can make a huge difference in customer satisfaction.
5. Develop Products Based on Customer Needs
When developing your products or services, one way to become more customer-centric is to supplement your development data with an understanding of the Voice of the Customer (VOC). Customers may not always state what they want clearly and concisely, but they can share insights that will help you design better products and services.
Try to engage with customers early in your product development process to hear their thoughts about design concepts and product features. Doing so can often help avoid creating unpopular features and allow you to collect new ideas that your team had not considered. A customer-centric strategy that enables customers to play an active role in the product creation process is likely to have a more robust pipeline of offerings.
6. Optimize Your Marketing Strategy
Similar to your product development strategy, your marketing efforts should also focus on customer needs. A marketing team should use data, industry knowledge, and a deep understanding of the customer to set the right priorities. With a better sense of customer needs and behaviors, there are many ways to optimize a marketing strategy.
One of the most significant risks for marketing and sales efforts is that you will spend time and resources sharing a message with an audience that doesn’t care or misses your point. A customer-centric company seeks to understand the real needs of customers and their motivations right upfront.
7. Reward Loyal Customers and Employees
It is always important to remind yourself that employees are really at the center of any customer-centric culture. Indeed, it's a best practice to have a loyalty program to reward your best customers, but you should also consider how you recognize your staff. Create some rewards that reinforce the desired behaviors and reinforce the idea that customer needs come first.
When employees go above and beyond to make a customer happy, take the opportunity to recognize their excellent performance. Offering incentives such as bonuses and sharing employees' success with the rest of the team or the company at large are excellent ways to reward your team members' hard work. Don't forget to reward behind-the-scenes team members for making an impact in addition to those in customer-facing positions.
Building an effective customer-centric strategy will require input from customers, employees, and management at all levels. As you can see, you can take several proven steps to strengthen relationships, collect better data, and make more informed decisions that benefit your customers. If done well, these efforts could lead to increased sales and a more engaging customer experience.