As we live in a highly competitive world where companies are fighting for more market share, more space in consumers’ minds and their shopping carts, being customer-centric has never been more critical for success. In fact, it has become recognized as the only way for any business, in any industry, to survive the competition in the marketplace.
What Does It Really Mean to Be Customer Centric?
While customer-centricity isn’t a new concept, many companies still have a vague understanding of what it really is. To put it simply, it’s a strategy that’s based on putting your customer first, and at the core of your business. But it doesn’t end with offering great products and providing outstanding customer service. In fact, it’s part of a much bigger picture.
Customer-centricity is rather a philosophy whereby a business is entirely focused on its customers and engages with them in a way that ensures positive customer experience before, at the point of sale and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, win greater customer loyalty and increase profits. Companies like Apple, Zappos, and Amazon are some prime examples of brands that have spent years creating a culture around the customer and their needs, and that are truly customer centric.
Why Customer Centricity Should Be Your Main Business Priority
The importance of being customer centric continues to grow. Companies adopt a client centric approach for a number of reasons but the most important one is that it becomes harder to attract new customers. Unless you are offering products or services that are totally unique and brand new, the majority of consumers will inevitably evaluate your business against competitors or equivalents available in the market.
That’s why putting customers at the core of a business and offering top-notch customer experience is becoming of paramount importance. In fact, according to the Customers 2020 report by Walker, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. While research from Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies that aren’t focused on the customer.
The 2018 Digital Trends report, published by Econsultancy in association with Adobe also revealed that customer-centric businesses that prioritize customer experience are more likely to outpace their competitors, and are twice as likely to exceed their business goals. In addition, the earlier study by Econsultancy discovered that 58% of respondents consider being “customer-centric” to be the most important characteristic in establishing a truly “digital native” culture.
5 Habits of Highly Customer-Centric Organizations
However important it is, executing a customer-centric approach doesn’t happen overnight, and it surely requires a certain strategy to follow. Let’s explore 5 powerful habits of organizations that have successfully built customer-centric cultures. What do they have in common and how do they manage to remain customer-centric despite their size and diversity?
- They clearly define their vision
Building a customer-centric company starts with defining a vision, a clear mission and cultural values. As Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive states: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” And Amazon truly lives up to its mission by incorporating customer-centricity in each activity and decision it takes.
Did you know that every company’s manager spends two days every two years at the customer service desk to make sure they are listening to their customers and understand their needs? As a result, every single Amazon’s employee from bottom to top has the customer’s perspective in mind all the time. That’s just one small but very powerful practice to mention that helps the entire organization be more customer-centric.
- They hire the right people
When it comes to hiring, customer-centric companies don’t choose the best people, they rather choose the right people who will perfectly fit into their culture. According to Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of Zappos, no matter how talented an applicant is, if they don’t fit the culture, then they simply won’t hire them. And what’s more: “Even if a person is great at their job, even if they’re a superstar at their job if they’re bad for our culture we’ll fire them for that reason alone,” Tony Hsieh says.
- They make data-driven decisions
Customer-centric organizations know that successful execution of their strategy greatly depends on having the right information at the right time. That’s why they capture customer data at every opportunity available to have a full 360 view of the customer. Based on that data, they personalize experiences for various customer groups, improve engagement and drive more loyalty. Alibaba, Amazon and Google are the examples of companies that use data and technology to deliver a seamless buying journey and add more value to their customers along the way.
- They empower employees to go the extra mile for customers
Customer-centric companies empower their employees by delegating authority and decision-making to make sure they deliver WOW customer experiences no matter what. For example, two of Ritz-Carlton’s service values state, “I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests,” and “I own and immediately resolve guest problems.” How do they do it? They simply entrust every single staff member to spend up to $2,000 per guest, to resolve a guest’s problem immediately, without approval from their general manager.
- They continuously innovate and improve
Truly customer-centric companies fully understand that going to market with a great product or service and expecting that today’s solution will solve tomorrow’s challenges of customers is a dead end. Consumer expectations are constantly changing and brands that want to stay relevant and maintain a loyal customer base need to constantly evolve, improve and drive new initiatives. That is the reason why despite its relatively fast same-day delivery, Amazon is currently working on the Prime Air project which is a new delivery system designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using drones. How great is that?
The Bottom Line
Customer-centric approach is nothing new, but it is becoming increasingly important in today’s age of the customer, when businesses are struggling to win the fierce competition and succeed. One of the most undeniable benefits of being customer-centric is improved customer retention rates and customer loyalty. And while increasing customer retention rates by only 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, customer-centricity is surely worth investing in.
About the Author
LiveAgent is a powerful, “All-in-One” solution which fits the needs of SMBs as well as enterprise companies. With award-winning live chat software and ticketing system, LiveAgent helps you to transfer your customer support center into the ultimate success department. Be closer to your customers via direct integration with social networks, real-time live chat with typing projection or knowledge base and forums besides call center and regular e-mails. Thanks to universal inbox, all of your messages from different channels will be stored at single central hub – easy to manage and store. LiveAgent speaks 39 languages and is mobile friendly with its own app. It offers you a vast library of more than 175 features and 24/7 support. Put your customers on the first place and upgrade your business with LiveAgent.