What’s common between Amazon, Zappos, Hilton, and Starbucks?
All are customer-centric companies. And, I do not need to tell you how successful these brands are!
Research by Deloitte(PDF) found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable than their competitors, who were not focused on the customer. Besides, two-thirds of companies now compete primarily based on customer experience.
These numbers indicate that creating a customer-centric company is the key to success in today’s competitive markets. It helps increase customer lifetime value, reduce churn rate, and build a positive image across the globe.
However, building a customer-centric company isn’t easy. CX Research found that 52% of CXO’s don’t understand how to make their business customer-centric.
The good news is, after reading this article, you’ll have a better idea (+ actionable strategies) about how to make your company customer-centric. Today, you’ll learn what a customer-centric company is, the challenges to becoming a customer-centric organization, and strategies to become a customer-centric company. Let’s get started!
What is Customer-Centricity?
Customer-centricity is a business strategy that focuses on providing the best possible customer experience before and after the sale.
In other words, being a customer-centric company means putting your customers at the core of your business to provide a positive experience every time they interact with you.
Being a customer-centric company helps build long-term relationships with customers, encourages loyalty, and leads to more referrals (via word-of-mouth marketing).
Challenges to Becoming a Customer-Centric Company
Here are some challenges that most companies face while striving to become customer-centric.
- Management Buy-In: Customer-centricity is a top-down approach. It begins with the executives changing the corporate culture to prioritize customers over everything. However, most management teams are generally skeptical about it.
- Absence of bidirectional communication between the development team and customers: The key to improving the product or services is collecting regular feedback and acting upon it. However, many companies don’t have a process to streamline feedback. As a result, they miss out on helping customers achieve their goals.
- Focusing too much on sales: 44% of companies focus on customer acquisition versus 18% that prioritize retention. Everyone is busy selling their product instead of improving it and providing a great experience to existing customers.
- Missing cross-functional integration: In order to become truly customer-centric, it is crucial to integrate all the departments. Excuses like ‘this is not my job,’ ‘that department will look into it,’ etc., definitely don’t make a great customer experience.
That said, let’s look at how you can overcome these challenges to become a customer-centric organization.
How to Become a Customer-Centric Organization?
As mentioned above, customer-centricity begins with management buy-in. If you want to become customer-centric, your business needs to make a company-wide commitment to prioritize customers’ needs.
Here are six ways to do so:
1. Invest in Customer Service
Customer-centric organizations understand the importance of providing the best possible after-sales service. Since the support agents interact with the customers every day, they can offer customer-focused insights to help the company improve its product and services.
This makes investing significant resources in customer service important. And, when we talk about resources, it’s not only about the money.
The resources include hiring the right people, training them, and providing them with the right tools to do the work efficiently.
For instance, a helpdesk tool like Freshdesk allows you to add chatbots, live chat, and self-service solutions for customer service. When it comes to phone support, iTeleCenter offers VoIP services with advanced features like toll-free numbers, extensions for departments, call forwarding, voicemail, custom greetings, virtual receptionist, automatic call distribution, and more.
These investments will help elevate your support team’s performance and efficiency, allowing them to better meet the customers’ needs.
2. Adopt the Practice of Whole Company Support
It’s challenging for non-support teams to put customers first as they rarely interact with them. That’s why it is vital to adopt the tradition of the whole company support, i.e., having everyone interact with customers regularly.
It will give every employee of your company the ability to better understand customers’ needs. As a result, when developing your product or adding new features to it, your team will have the customers’ expectations at the back of their minds.
Another benefit of adopting the practice of whole company support is that it will give your sales and marketing team a better understanding of how customers perceive your product. This will enable them to create hyper-personalized campaigns that focus on solving customers’ pain points, thereby fostering customer loyalty.
3. Collect Customer Feedback Regularly and Act Upon It
Even if you have the best product in the market, there’s always some room for improvement. Being customer-centric means understanding the customers’ point of view and respecting their interests.
Therefore, it is crucial to listen to customers and act upon their suggestions. Create a system to collect customer feedback regularly. Also, share it with all your employees (even the ones not in the support team).
This will help you improve your product and meet your customers’ expectations. Moreover, when you act upon customers’ feedback, it makes them feel valued, thereby fostering long-term relationships and loyalty.
4. Foster Meaningful and Empathetic Relationship With Your Employees
If customer experience is important, then creating a workforce that delights customers is even more critical. When employees are happy, they are more likely to give their best at work.
Salesforce, for instance, enjoys a customer retention rate of 91% because its employees are happy and satisfied. One highly regarded measure of workplace satisfaction is Fortune’s Best Place to Work For, a list that evaluates thousands of companies to determine the top 100 places to work.
Salesforce ranks second in the list in 2021, up from the sixth position in 2020. During the pandemic, Salesforce allowed parents to take up to six extra weeks off work and offered reimbursements of $500 for childcare and educational resources.
This shows that fostering meaningful and empathetic relationships with employees goes a long way in building a customer-centric company.
5. Ensure Everyone Prioritizes Customers’ Needs
When the entire organization comes together to ensure customer satisfaction at all levels, it gets easier to become a customer-centric company. Here’s how you can bring all your employees together:
- Reward employees: Recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction. This will show that customers are the real boss at your company.
- Hire people who fit your culture: When evaluating potential new hires, determine whether they share your company’s values, i.e., prioritizing customers. While it’s difficult to be 100% accurate, do your best to build a team that is enthusiastic about offering the best possible customer service (irrespective of their department).
- Ensure a happy working environment: Do you know Zappos offers new employees who are unhappy with the work a $2,000 bonus to quit? The practice was designed to weed out employees who won’t be as committed to and passionate about the work. It also helps improve overall happiness in the company’s workforce.
- Improve internal communication: Ensure that your employees can reach anyone in the organization quickly. This will enable them to share their problems or suggestions that they feel can enhance customer satisfaction.
6. Measure and Optimize
Becoming a customer-centric company doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to start small and gradually improve. Therefore, it is vital to measure your performance in terms of customer satisfaction.
While most companies rely on basic indicators like net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), and customer satisfaction rate (CSAT), you can go beyond these metrics by tracking:
- Ticket volume
- Resolution rate
- Average handling time
- Average first response time
- First contact resolution rate
- Churn rate
- Employee satisfaction score
If you don’t see any improvements in these metrics, it’s time to revisit your strategies, find loopholes, and seal them.
Building a customer-centric company begins with the management team creating a culture to prioritize customers over everything. Investing significant resources in customer service and acting upon customer feedback can help you outdo your competitors and become the go-to brand in your industry.