Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, one of the biggest multinational technology enterprises, once said: “Our whole role in life is to give you something you didn’t know you wanted. And then once you get it, you can’t imagine your life without it.”
Apple’s entire strategy has been customer-centric. You may have seen loyal customers purchasing the latest gadgets as soon as they’re launched. Customers fall in love with Apple products and keep coming back for more. This is the power of customer-centricity. What is it and why should you bother about it? Let’s find out.
What Does It Mean To Be Customer-Centric?
The word ‘customer-centric’ isn’t new; we’ve been using it for ages, especially in business settings. Also known as a client-centric approach, customer-centricity refers to putting the customer at the center. In other words, it’s a business strategy where you put your customer or client first. It helps you connect your business to the unique needs of the customers. Furthermore, you provide a positive experience and build long-term relationships, making room for loyal customers and clients.
Often, organizations place emphasis on products or sales. However, a customer-centric approach enhances the quality of products and services. As it prioritizes the customer, everyone in an organization works toward designing and implementing a good customer experience. The decisions, processes and strategies involved are all geared toward understanding and prioritizing customer satisfaction.
We’ve entered a new world driven by the ‘emotion economy’, where extreme focus on customers has led to rapid business success. Richard Yonck, the futurist, coined the term ‘emotion economy’. He defined it as an ecosystem of emotionally intelligent devices and software iterations that completely change the way we interact with machines. E-commerce brands are ideal examples of this economy, demonstrating the success of a customer-centric strategy. They research and understand their customer’s behavior to add personalized and engaging user experiences. It goes without saying, advancements in technology have a big role to play.
Why A Customer-Centric Approach Matters
Customer or client-centric approaches have huge business value. Peter Fader, one of the pioneers of customer-centricity, highlights the significance of this approach in his book, Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage (2002). He suggests that by focusing on the real users, organizations can enhance the delivery of products and services by recognizing the current and future needs of customers; therefore maximizing long-term financial value.
Here are some advantages of choosing customer-centric methods for your organization:
Improves Operational Efficiency
When businesses work closely with customers, they co-create the value of products and services. This enhances the quality as customers contribute to the design and other underlying processes required to create the finished product. Being a part of the process makes for greater customer satisfaction. It saves resources, especially time and duplication of work and improves operational efficiency.
Addresses Business Concerns
We often look at the customer-centric strategy as a means to gain traction but it’s so much more. You can use customer feedback to address specific business challenges. Customer experience help us connect to different business outcomes and identify different concerns from sales to operations. You can see the experience holistically and deliver outcomes accordingly.
Increases Retention Rates
If you take any successful e-commerce start-up business, you’ll see the amount of time and effort that goes into retaining a customer. In other words, businesses are dedicated to a customer’s lifetime value, that is, the average revenue a customer will generate throughout their lifespan as a customer. The more time you spend on a client, the more they will listen to your recommendations about purchasing particular products.
Efficient Client Segmentation
Customer orientation helps in efficient client segmentation. In other words, you attract the best clients or customers as you simultaneously adjust your strategies to meet their expectations and needs. For example, Nike recognized their best clients as runners and athletes. By focusing their efforts toward attracting this segment of the population, they dominate the sportswear market.
Gives An Ideal Customer Experience
When you pay attention to details such as specific customer needs and expectations, they feel appreciated. This paves way for customer loyalty. This is why Starbucks—a leading coffee house chain—gained a loyal band of customers by creating a unique customer experience. Stores are often situated in proximity to consumers and a strong local aesthetic makes each store distinguishable.
Technological advancements act as catalysts that facilitate and support customer-centric culture in businesses. It’s time for organizations to take advantage of this strategy.
Who Can Create A Customer-Centric Culture?
Being customer-centric is more important than before. The internet acts as an immediate platform for customers and clients to share their reviews and feedback. Review sites, streaming, social media and screenshots can make or break a business. For organizations to thrive and create a competitive edge, they need to recognize opportunities and create a customer-centric culture.
If you want to prioritize customers, you need to involve everyone. It has to be an organization-wide strategy that engages every employee. When every department is aware of the needs and expectations, it’s easier to dedicate resources and processes to fulfill those demands. Here’s how different kinds of employees can contribute to customer-centricity:
The upper management has the supreme responsibility to define and align mission, vision and values that fosters a client-centric culture. By creating a shared foundation, they encourage employees to get on the same page. Executives can communicate their objectives through organization-wide meetings, brainstorming sessions and group emails.
A customer-centric approach won’t take root unless frontline leaders and managers implement it. They need to closely work with employees and support them wherever needed. Through active mentoring sessions, leaders can make a huge difference by motivating employees and guiding them in the right direction.
Marketing is at the forefront of creating brand value and loyalty among customers. Whether it’s a website launch or social media, the marketing team has the responsibility of studying customer behavior online. There are many ways to gauge customer experience and marketing professionals often do their research by using surveys and feedback.
Sales is one of the most important branches of any organization as it’s responsible for profitability and growth. However, sales has changed drastically in recent years. Its dynamic nature is primarily rooted in changing customer expectations. If a sales team wants to provide a superior customer experience, it needs to sell business solutions that resonate with someone’s expressed and unexpressed needs.
Customer experience doesn’t end with the purchase of a single product or service. Several organizations rely on a customer service or support team to ensure positive customer relationships are maintained. These teams not only address and resolve customer queries but also anticipate their needs.
The combined strength of every department can lead to a positive long-term relationship with people, therefore improving customer loyalty.
How To Create Your Own Customer-Centric Model
If you want to create a customer-centric model that steers your business toward anticipating customer needs and expectations, here are some effective strategies to consider.
Collect Customer Feedback
Communication is a two-way street. You can’t expect to communicate your brand value and not consider what people have to say about it. Frequent and regular customer feedback is the cornerstone of a successful customer-centric culture. Make sure you use your communication channels, such as newsletters, phone calls and social media, wisely to gain quantitative insights about your product.
Be Easily Accessible
We’ve all faced challenges in accessing customer service support at some point or the other. Several leading organizations provide their contact numbers or emails and indicate an ‘available 24/7’ to show that support is easily and readily available. This not only shows that you’re proactive but also demonstrates your dedication toward your customers.
Meet Your Customers
Direct human contact seems like a thing of the past after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, e-meeting your customers is a great way to maintain relationships. Several organizations host events and webinars that act as avenues for collecting feedback. Direct interaction with your customers is a great way to gauge their expectations.
Hire For Customer Orientation
Make a customer-centric approach a clear priority from the beginning. Hire prospective employees that are on board with this approach. During interviews, hiring managers can ask specific questions to candidates and gauge their thoughts on customer orientation. Make sure they’re aligned with customer-centric thinking and consider it a priority.
Link Employee Culture To Customer Outcomes
Employees will be motivated to foster a customer-centric culture and mindset when they know how it impacts results. There is a direct link between an organization’s culture and customer impact.
Successful business leaders around the world have started to recognize that workplace culture and client-centric strategies go hand-in-hand. It’s time you recognize it too.
Establish Trust For Customer-Centricity
Whether it’s organizational culture or customer-centricity, trust lies at the heart of all relationships. It’s the glue that holds people together. To build and maintain trust-rich relationships with internal (employees) and external (customers) stakeholders, you can trust Harappa’s Establishing Trust course. Powerful frameworks will teach you how to build credibility and establish reliability. Customers will not only trust your brand but have faith in you as a professional. Trust Harappa, try Harappa!
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as The Importance of Building Relationships, What Is A Rapport, Characteristics Of An Extrovert & Advantages Of Being An Ambivert to build strong professional networks.