There is no denying the importance of a customer-centric business strategy. A report by Deloitte and Touche found that businesses with a customer-centric strategy were up to 60% more profitable than companies without a focus on their customers. This is in addition to the benefits businesses can draw from improved customer service, customer retention, and overall satisfaction.
Customer centricity is a business strategy and culture that is designed around customer satisfaction at all levels of the organization. A customer-centric organization infuses principles of positive customer experience in leadership, management, product or service development, marketing, after-sales service, and every other facet of business operations.
In many ways, a customer-centric business strategy goes far beyond offering good customer service. You’ll often see it in companies like Zappos and Amazon that have built their entire brands around their customers, who are the lifeblood of their successful business models.
It’s much easier to begin with a customer-centric approach when launching a new business or during its early stages than it is to incorporate it into an existing business.
Therefore, it’s always important to infuse the principles of customer centricity when drawing up a business plan and during the implementation phases. Here are a few pointers on how to go about it.
1. Identify and define the customer
Disruptive start-ups, home-based businesses, and other high-octane outfits often forget to define their customers when starting out. With exciting or innovative products or services, it’s easy to forget about the customers when designing the business’ roadmap.
Ensure that you have a clear definition of who your customers are and infuse that definition into your company’s core values. These values should describe how customers should be handled and define the relationship between the customers, vendors, and employees.
If you plan on bringing extra people on board during the early stages of the new business, make sure they understand and live by the personas you’ve built around your customers. The last thing you want is different team members with multiple definitions of your customers and their needs.
2. Reinforce customer-centric values regularly
Once you’ve defined and ensured everyone understands your customer-centric values and definitions, you will need to reinforce these values on a regular basis. Subtle methods like devoting a few minutes every morning or at least weekly to stress on one or more customer-centric values will go a long way in ensuring the culture becomes habitual.
3. Go visual
Zappos, one of the most successful customer-centric brands, always includes a sentence describing a core value of the business with every package that ships out. Employees of The Ritz-Carlton, another successful customer-centric outfit, always carry a card highlighting the company’s core values.
These visual cues act as subtle reminders about the company’s core values, especially where it relates to customers.
4. Put someone in charge of customer relations
A research study conducted by Almighty found that over half of employees working for different brands could not identify a single individual who had the responsibility of monitoring the quality of customer experience. Without anyone to follow up on the experiences customers had with the company, things like poor customer retention and bankruptcy are often real possibilities.
You don’t have to be a big multinational to have a customer relationship department. In the early days of the business, you won’t even need a customer relationship department, just someone in a leadership position –like your business partner – to be in charge of monitoring customer experience.
Such individuals should be able to monitor the small things, like potential delays in package delivery and find a workaround to ensure the customer receives their package on time.
5. Use appropriate tools to measure customer experience
A customer-centric business strategy is all about measuring the quality and value of customer experience and using the resulting data for continuous improvement. Without such metrics, businesses usually end up doing a lot of guesswork, which often results in poor results.
The cloud offers an awesome platform for new businesses to test and implement a majority of business tools. Check out the following infographic by Ooma to get an idea of the many cloud-based tools that can be used to run various business processes, including customer engagement and experience.
There are two popular metrics that young businesses can use to measure customer experience. One is the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and the other is the churn rate. CLV gives you an idea of the profits your business gains from individual customers and why you should invest in customer retention.
The churn rate helps businesses understand why customers leave and others stay, which helps companies design customer-centric strategies for customer retention.
Developing a customer-centric strategy is probably one of the most important tasks when planning the different moving parts of your business. Implementing a new strategy or culture after years of business growth is a risky and challenging endeavor, which is why you should always mold your company’s customer experience strategy from the start.