If you’re a sceptic, you may be thinking that customer-centricity is just another marketing buzz phrase that means ‘good customer service’. After all, aren’t ALL companies interested in their customers (or clients)? But there’s more to customer-centricity than that.
In fact, customer-centric businesses focus on understanding and listening to customers – making it the very core of their organisational culture and philosophy.
But is it right for your business? What are the advantages of taking a customer-centric approach?
By being totally obsessed with your customers, you gain deep insights into their wants and needs. This can, in turn, be used to continually tailor your processes, products and services to meet those needs.
It’s a one-way ticket to increased customer loyalty, and better customer acquisition and retention.
Quite simply, being customer-centric gives you a competitive advantage.
The proof is in the data, and numerous studies have found the key driver that customer service and customer centricity can deliver for organisations.
Studies have found that:
86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. (CEI Survey)
89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report)
90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86% said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. (Dimensional Research)
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. (McKinsey)
A 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Bain & Co)
There’s tremendous evidence that a customer-centric approach is a strong way to improve your customer acquisition, loyalty and retention.
Customer-centric businesses had an advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having previously established a reputation for great service, value and trustworthiness, they were better able to weather the storm.
Brands that had already created an online presence with strong digital offers, online reviews and other trust signals, they were in a better position to capitalise on the shift. For example, fitness trainers that were already savvy with online training technology could continue to offer workouts at home. Restaurants that had plenty of strong Google reviews were better able to maximise their appearance in online searches for local takeaway.
But it’s not just being able to pivot in case of changing market conditions. In the post-COVID era, brands can’t afford to make assumptions about how their customers operate. What was true pre-COVID may be totally different now. So, it makes sense to invest in understanding how sentiments may have shifted due to the pandemic.
“Customers are telling us that they want so much more from us than products on shelves.” — Alex Freudmann, Managing Director at Dan Murphy’s.
Alcohol retailer Dan Murphy’s recently launched new store designs in a direct response to customer feedback and market trends. The ‘store of the future’ delivers innovations based directly on intensive customer research, including:
Focusing on education about products – using QR codes so customers can immediately learn more about products or read reviews
Creating a sense of discovery, with a ‘magic moment’ space for tastings, events and in-store experiences
Improving the sustainability of stores, particularly in the areas of energy use and recycling
Supporting more local business by highlighting partnerships with boutique local breweries and winemakers in the vicinity to stores
Improving the diversity of the low-alcohol and alcohol-free range to suit customers seeking alternatives to consuming alcohol.
The customer-centric investment means that Dan Murphy’s is well placed to maintain or strengthen its market position amid healthy competition in 2021.
Taking on this model requires a whole-of-business cultural shift, so it’s not a transition to be taken lightly. A change like this will only be successful if it’s fully embraced by the decision makers.
In the meantime, some initial steps that will help you start learning more from customers could be:
Reaching out and establishing a rapport with them by empathy mapping
Defining how you will meet your customer’s needs with a use case
Conducting regular customer focus groups
Investigating your net promoter scores
Investing in market research for in-depth customer insights.
Several key factors will help any business maintain and improve the customer experience:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Implementing a system that can gather customer data and ensure that all key staff have access to the same information guarantees consistency.
Being accessible: Make sure your customers can contact you easily and directly. There are a variety of platforms that can be used to do this such as a 24/7 helpline, chatbots, social media messaging, etc.
Customer consideration: Thinking of the customer when making any decisions about the business. Ask yourself, “how does this help the customer?”
Feedback: Gathering customer feedback via surveys, user testing and focus groups.
Surprise and delight: By rewarding customers for loyal service, you can make them feel special. This can be done with prizes, exclusive access to special events or content.
Customers expect to find your brand active and engaged on various social platforms, driving traffic back to a quality website. If your digital footprint fails to deliver what they’re seeking, they know that with just a click or a tap, Google can find them alternatives, all in less than a second.
Digital branding is an entire subject on its own, but a customer centric digital strategy will include:
A fast, well designed website, designed for strong UX (User Experience)
Regular publishing of blog content
Consistent thought leadership on the right social media platforms
A value-driven email marketing strategy
An enticing lead magnet that delivers growth of your email list
Strong online reviews via Google My Business and other relevant online review platforms, such as Yelp, ProductReview or TripAdvisor (depending on your industry)
Strong SEO performance, meaning that customers find your website for numerous relevant search queries in Google.
The benefit of a strong digital strategy is that you can also access the sophisticated data from customers. You can use heat mapping to track how website visitors engage with your content. Google Analytics will show you the way that people flow through your website, and where they fall off and leave. Your social media insights will tell you what subjects get them engaged and commenting.
These valuable insights will help you understand the content customers like to read and how they navigate your website and social content. In turn, you can make better content marketing choices, because you’ll know what subjects interest your customers most. By giving them the content they seek, your brand becomes more authoritative, trusted and likeable, driving stronger customer regard and loyalty.
Australian manufacturers of emerging skincare brand Ellus & Krue noticed an opportunity to cut through the clutter of traditional skincare marketing. By partnering with Professor Derek Richard, Scientific Director of QUT’s Cancer and Anti-Ageing Research Program, Ellus & Krue created a skincare range that is driven by scientific insights, rather than consumer trends. The locally manufactured skincare range takes an evidence-based approach to products, driven by a desire to give consumers an alternative to mass-market global skincare brands.
Understanding that its customers wanted more sustainable dental products, global dental manufacturer TePe created TePe Good, a new range of toothbrushes made from 96% bio-based plastic. Plus, 96% of the carbon dioxide emissions during the toothbrush’s life cycle are recycled. It all came about from listening to customers and understanding that they wanted a more sustainable, environmentally friendly option for their plastic toothbrush.
If you want to create a customer-centric organisation, it all begins with your staff. Building a culture of customer-centricity starts at the top down. Integrating a customer-centric approach begins with:
Adding customer-centric KPIs to all position descriptions
Encouraging staff to dedicate time to customer listening and customer evaluation
Questioning potential candidates
Hiring an internal resource responsible for creating a customer-centric focus
Creating a culture of innovation, driven by solving customer pain points.
If you’d like our advice on building your team to create a more customer-centric culture, contact us to chat about how we can help.
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