Customer centricity is the business philosophy that focuses on creating positive customer experiences throughout each stage of the customer journey. Emerging as early as the 1950s, this perspective has since been embraced by some of the most successful companies. The customer centricity business model is no longer considered innovative - it is a trialled and true way to prosper in today’s world.
Now that the customer is no longer confined to the physical world, companies need to devise ways to remain customer centric in-store, and in online settings too. This is imperative in a world where customer loyalty is waning.i
Striving for customer centricity in this hybrid context where omni-channel marketing is gaining prominence is challenging, and customers increasingly demand more.
The growth in online business means that companies are managing more touchpoints than ever before. It explains why omni-channel marketing, defined by Deloitte as “an ecosystem of products and services [that] can deliver what customers want, where they want it, and when they want it” is becoming so prominent.ii Whether or not your company has adopted an omni-channel strategy, it continues to redefine the ways customers interact.
Wherever your company sits on the spectrum, remaining customer centric is key. The following three factors are considered non-negotiable when striving for customer centricity.
1. Use your resources (data) well
Your data should guide your decisions. In previous articles, we covered how CRM software can be an invaluable resource when it comes to profiling your customers. Simple data sets can be very useful too. The insights from your data can be leveraged to improve the customer’s experience, which in turn promotes customer satisfaction, increased revenue and upselling/cross-selling opportunities.
However, collecting data is not enough. To reap the advantages afforded by data, companies must convert this into knowledge such that value can be delivered to customers. This means going beyond a generic one-size fits all approach, instead offering a personalised, rich customer experience. Studies reveal that 80% of customers prefer a personalised approach.
It means for instance, you must get to know their needs, remember who they are, and what they’ve done (on any channel or device) and anticipate their future needs.
2. Be proactive
Think about what data you already have and anticipate the potential issues your customer may face. You know your business and those dimensions that will directly impact your customers. It might be product fulfilment delays, significant software upgrades, changes to pricing, release of new models, end of warranty or seasonal specials etc. Offer solutions proactively to further enhance their confidence in your organisation.
Whether it’s a simple suggestion over the phone or a detailed proposal, customers will always appreciate proactive customer service. Better still, being proactive and tailoring solutions create richer customer experiences. This makes customers feel like your company genuinely cares and that they are more than just a data point.
3. Trust-based relationships
Trust is defined as “our willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of others because we believe they have good intentions and will behave well toward us.”iii
For years now, there has been overwhelming evidence that trust is a catalyst for long-term customer relationships. However, consumer trust in our institutions is faltering. In our rapidly changing world, the customer centric company should be on the lookout for ways to cultivate trustworthy relationships. Firstly, because we are living in a time where customer loyalty is becoming rarer, but also research shows that trust is the single most important purchasing consideration, apart from price.iv
One key lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that where trust is concerned, transparency is essential. This warrants open, honest communication, clear policies and timely follow through when interacting with anything related to customers. All of these point towards being customer centric. Your customers need to trust you.
Of course, providing quality products and excellent customer support (whether in a physical or online context) will always be conducive to building trust. But in our data-driven world, digital trust has become at the forefront of concern. If anything, as digitalisation accelerates, it will become the biggest determinant of how trustworthy a company is. It’s no longer just about product quality and price. Trust brings with it the expectation of ongoing support, your awareness of cyber security and privacy issues, that your advice is reliable and that you demonstrate that their trust in your organisation is warranted.
Few organisations can survive without customer centricity being in focus and our digital landscape now makes this even more important.
Survival in a fiercely competitive business landscape without appropriate levels of customer centricity is fraught with risk. Using data well, being proactive and instilling trust are three drivers of customer centricity that all companies should strive to achieve.