How to create a more customer-centric culture
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In today’s hyper-competitive, always-connected world, striving for customer centricity should be the standard for every business. But research indicates only 14 percent of marketers would say that customer centricity is a hallmark of their companies. Why?
For many organizations, the ROI on customer centricity isn’t quite as noticeable or measurable as other investments, like improved sales technology or upgraded manufacturing equipment.
Given the continued success and rabid loyalty of storied consumer brands like Tesla, Chick-fil-a, Starbucks, Apple, and Target, there’s a strong case to be made for adopting a customer-centric mindset. It’s what allows businesses to quickly adapt to consumer needs and create unique customer experiences.
And it’s not just about customer experience. Possessing a customer-centric culture gives businesses a distinct advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, maintaining staff motivation, and clarifying a company’s purpose and intent.
What is customer centricity?
When a company finds greater meaning through bringing satisfaction to customers, their culture is seen as customer centric. Being customer-centric drives every action and decision for these businesses and informs the mutually gratifying relationship they enjoy with their core audience.
Customer centricity is also evidenced when organizations are able to offer speed, consistency, and convenience over their competitors, without losing the human element in every interaction.
Over time, a customer-centric culture will benefit your company in several ways, including:
- Increased revenue: Companies who lead in customer centricity outperform competitors by almost 80% and drive revenue between 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.
- Customer loyalty: An overwhelming 96% of consumers report that customer service is a key differentiator for choosing brand loyalty, making customer centricity a focal point.
- Less purchase abandonment: While sticker shock can cause some potential customers to abandon their carts, 37.7% of loyal customers express a willingness to purchase a product despite price.
- Word of mouth: A customer-centric culture can help a business compete with rivals with bigger ad campaigns. After all, 92% of consumers trust their friends over traditional media.
When it comes to fostering long-term customer relationships, the power of customer centricity is undeniable. If you’re hoping to shift your company away from being solely a product-focused or revenue-focused business, use the following tips to ignite a customer-centric culture.
Write a core-purpose statement to inspire customer centricity
Obviously, the presence of a customer-centric culture across an organization doesn’t happen by accident (or overnight). Customer centricity is an intentional and purposeful act.
Your first step should be defining the motivation behind your company and why your business exists to serve customers.
Putting together a core-purpose statement to guide your business toward customer centricity will require a certain level of honesty and inward reflection. Try a 5 Whys exercise:
- Gather employees from your team and/or across other departments for a brainstorm.
- Begin by exploring WHAT it is you do as a business. Put this in the form of a statement, basic like “We build ________ for ________” or “We provide _______ services for ________.”
- Write your statement on a whiteboard along with the question, “WHY is that important?”
- Ask the WHY question over and over five times, each time exploring the answer further.
- Record each response, reviewing them completely as a team to reveal the core purpose.
If your core-purpose brainstorming session is being conducted remotely, or if you’d like to refer to (and add on) to the results later, Lucidspark is an easy, intuitive way to document the exercise.
Take a customer-centric approach in all aspects of your business
Once you’ve formulated your core-purpose statement, it’s time to implement it company-wide.
Too often, the customer-centric mindset is relegated solely to a company’s marketing activities. If an organization really wants to embrace its customer centricity, everyone should plan to get involved.
As a leader, there are several areas where you can help to instill customer centricity.
- Elevate consumer-centric thinking by using it to measure and assess job candidates
- Share key insights or research on customer behaviors during company-wide meetings
- Whenever possible, let employees listen to sales calls or observe customer focus groups
- Give everyone a stake in boosting sales or retention by connecting it to compensation
Whether someone works the night shift on the production line or crunches the numbers 9-to-5 in the accounting department, they still contribute to the success (or failure) of customer centricity taking hold at your business. Inspire its adoption by first prioritizing customer centricity yourself.
Set up systems of measurement to reflect goals and feedback
Like any goal, it’s critical to constantly track, measure, and evaluate how successful your organization is in becoming consumer-centric.
Fortunately, there are many tools and methodologies to help you keep an eye on your progress:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is a simple, yet effective way to identify any existing pain points by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product to others.
- Competitive Benchmarking: Identify target keywords and see who you’re competing against. Track your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) analytics with tools like SET.
- SEM Rush: This suite of competitive research tools will let you see which sites appear beside your site most frequently in a Competitive Position Map report for comparison.
UX metrics are also useful for gathering information on the current state of customer centricity at your business. Product teams at Google conduct their analysis using the HEART framework:
- Happiness: Measures of customer perceptions and satisfaction using surveys like NPS.
- Engagement: Measures of user behaviors (ex: number of site visits or app downloads).
- Adoption: Measure of new product or feature usage (ex: number of loyalty card signups).
- Retention: Measures the rate that the customers return (ex: subscriptions after free trial).
- Task success: Measures the user experience in efficiency, effectiveness, and error rate
Gathering all of this data on the customer experience is powerful, but only when those insights translate into action.
With Lucidspark, you can uncover patterns by tagging items and grouping them into containers. Or make sense of your notes by transforming them into affinity, decision tree, and synthesis diagrams. This is how feedback turns promising ideas into concrete plans.
Encourage open lines of communication with customers
In a customer-centric culture, feedback is what drives continual growth and improvement.
Creating customer profiles for your business will help to ensure that your employees understand where, when, and how often they should communicate with customers. Do customers prefer to get information about new products or service updates from email, phone, text, or newsletters?
Doing so will avoid spamming or overwhelming your customers with unwanted communication.
Companies with a strong customer-centric culture often have a strong social media presence. In particular, Twitter is a popular platform for engaging directly with customers and establishing a personality for your brand through organic posts and interactions. Customer-centric businesses like Wendy’s have built loyal fanbases with millions of followers from their savvy use of Twitter.
Because these two-way interactions on Twitter are public, when it’s done well your tweets can show your business in a positive light. If complaints or negative comments appear, the way you respond and resolve issues can also further enhance your reputation for being customer-centric.
Building up and maintaining a presence on Twitter will take time, dedication, and energy. This is why customer-centric companies assign someone full time to manage their social media presence.
When consumers want to reach out to your organization outside of social media, it’s also helpful to provide a customer service hotline and/or an email address dedicated to that purpose. Again, it’s critical that phone calls are answered and emails get replies in a prompt and timely manner.
To keep information flowing, customer interaction reports (CIRs) are helpful. Using quick forms that are filled out after notable customer engagements, CIRs can be broken down into excerpts to be shared on your company’s Slack or Teams channels. By seeing how tough situations are resolved, employees feel a connection to customers and one another.
Customer-centric companies care about more than customers
Customer centricity is more than simply working to ensure the happiness and satisfaction of the customer. It’s also about empowering and supporting employees and letting them see a greater sense of purpose in their roles. Connecting the day-to-day work they do for your company with the lasting impact it makes in the lives of their customers and the world makes a big difference.
The way you treat and care for your employees has a direct effect on customer centricity. Simply put, if you have satisfied employees, you have satisfied customers.
By investing in the wellbeing of your workforce, you also increase their ability (and motivation) to build better products and deliver better experiences for your customers. This is why it’s critical to resolve any concerns with employee morale before focusing on a customer-centric culture.
Building a customer-centric culture is a meaningful, worthwhile pursuit for any organization. But it’s not something you achieve simply by using the latest technology. This will take more than an understanding of your customers. Customer centricity must be integrated into all aspects of a business to really influence how decisions are made. In the end, it’s about building relationships.
Once your company succeeds at consumer centricity, customers will notice. And so will you.
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