You know how the old adage goes: “the customer is always right.” Perhaps a modern version should be slightly adjusted, to instead be “the customer is all that matters.” In this era of business, it is more important than ever to be completely customer-centric in your approach.
“Customer-centric” is something of a buzzword, but the thinking behind it is sound. All it means, in basic terms, is that the business aims to provide a positive customer experience before, during, and after the sale, with the goal of converting the customer into a repeat customer and generating an ongoing cycle of sales.
The stakes are high because customers are more willing than ever to go somewhere else if they have a bad customer experience. Statistics show that almost every customer (89%) of people go to a competitor after having a poor customer experience with an incumbent.
That sounds logical enough, right? When you look at any successful business model in recent times – be that Amazon or Apple, Disney or Netflix, being customer-centric and getting customers to come to them after having a poor experience elsewhere has been the underpinning reason for the success.
So, how can you adjust your own business model to make is a customer-centric one?
Make sure you truly understand the customer
You need to know your customer’s buying behaviours, interests, and how they interact with your brand. Having a strong customer relationship management (CRM) platform is essential here, as it gives you a full view of your customer across the entire sales funnel.
Improve the experience for your employees
It’s often overlooked, but your employees are your representatives in the field, and they’re the ones that need to be the cheerleaders for your business. Empowering them to do their jobs without inhibitions is so important for the customer experience.
Moving your work processes online is an example of this in motion. Take catering as an example. By investing in software such as Foodstorm, you can untether employees from their desks, allowing them to access all of your business processes from anywhere and at any time.
So, if an employee is at a job, they have instant access to everything they need from the cloud, and can deliver a superior experience to the customer.
Communicate frequently, but effectively
A good CRM system will allow you to break your customers down into small groups, based on interests, demographic information, location and other factors. This is important, because while you need to regularly communicate with your customers (else they may forget about your business), you also need to make sure the communication is relevant to them.
Make sure you’re accessible
Another good reason for moving your customer service platforms online is that customers will be able to reach you and your team more easily, and get responses more quickly. In the era of social media and online interactions, customers have limited patience for waiting for responses to their queries and feedback, so enabling your organisation to respond to customers from anywhere, via the online cloud-based platform, is essential in giving customers the optimal experience.
Customers like to feel like there’s some kind of benefit to continuing to give business to a single source, so loyalty cards and benefits for repeat use of your business is an important cornerstone of customer centricity. The CRM comes to the rescue here, too, by giving you a full overview to how each customer has interacted with your brand in the past, and loyal they’ve been with repeat purchases.
Build your products and services around the customer
This last one is the area where so many businesses go wrong. You may think you’ve got a great product and service, and it may well be something amazing, but if it’s only relevant to a tiny few people, and customers aren’t buying it, then it’s not a customer centric product. Worse, supporting the product will continue to cost your business money.
It’s important that you take a data-driven approach to product and service development. Research what resonates well with customers and what their needs and challenges are, and provide services that will resonate with the largest number of customers.
Customer centricity means that your customer-facing business experience is excellent. You need a great, easy-to-use website, and the products and services that you provide need to be top quality. But the piece of the puzzle that is often overlooked is in the back-end. How you structure your business, work with your employees, and the tools that you give them to do their jobs all have a direct implication for their ability to be customer centric.
Enabling your staff to do a leading job means investing in CRM and other tools that give them a full understanding of the customers that they’re interacting with, and then backing that up with a product development strategy that always asks: “what does the customer want?”