Constantly changing customer demands, new technologies entering the market every month, and often; legacy systems slowing down any kind of innovation. These are just a few of many, many factors that organizations need to consider to stay relevant. A topic that probably hasn’t bypassed anyone by now is customer centricity. An organization that is truly customer centric understands the unique situations, problems and expectations of their customers, and they consistently work towards delivering products and services that meet those expectations – creating solid customer experiences. Gartner predicts that by 2020, poor customer experiences will destroy 30 % of digital business projects. Now is the time to shake things up! We hand you 5 tips to embrace customer centricity in your organisation.
To fundamentally improve the customer experience, customer centricity must run in the veins of the organization, who must systematically act to put their customers at the heart. To really embrace a “customer first” mentality, more than an internal marketing campaign is needed to be successful. A real understanding of the impact and influence that customers have on their business as well as a mindset and willingness to actively address and work on customer centric initiatives are needed more than ever today. Some organizations even take it seriously enough to structure their whole way of working – their operating model – around their customers – and these are the ones who does it right. What does it mean to be customer centric?
Customer centricity is about focusing on the customer; designing a compelling and engaging omni-channel experience by designing connected customer journeys as well as extraordinary customer experiences across channels and touchpoints. But it’s also about technology; connecting user front-ends, customer data and backend solutions, and linking the business processes orchestrating customer interactions with the enterprise. To successfully embrace customer centricity, there are a couple of things to think of that can help on the way;
- A splendid customer experience shouldn’t be taken for granted
The more satisfied your customers or clients are, the more they’re likely to spend with you. A recent Capgemini study reinforced that customer experience is valuable and valued—81% of consumers are willing to pay for a better experience. Consumers are ready to reward better experiences with increased spending, and will choose where to do so with critical eyes. This is not only true for the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) market, but more and more for the Business-to-Business (B2B) market. After all, one business buying from another, is just as much a customer as those in consumer-facing sectors.
- The customers buying behaviours are changing
We already know that new technologies are driving new behaviours in both the B2C and B2B. The efficient, effective, easy to use, my way, anytime, anywhere demands of today’s B2C customer have been apparent and accepted for a while now. But more and more the B2B buyer is changing. Analysts are telling us that there is a paradigm shift in how professional consumers (B2B) are navigating their buyer journey—for example there is a growing propensity towards self-service. B2B buyers just like B2C buyers prefer to research on their own, and the need they have to interact with sales representatives as their primary source of information is also heavily declining.
- Re-think the standard buckets of segments
So, as any business be it B2C or B2B, it is important to understand not only what makes your customers happy but also to know how to influence the action they take as a result of interacting with your brand. To let go of fixed segments of customer groups and characteristics, and to focus more on individual customer needs and deliver an experience that satisfies these, is completely different than tendering to general customer profiles. Customers who feel that their needs are met and that they are seen, are much more inclined to stay and do business with an organization in the long run.
- Build a real relationship with your customers to create intimacy and loyalty
Digitization in our society has led to reduced personal contact; face-to-face is only one of many channels available to your customers, and is not always the preferred path. This has implications on how your brand is represented and how it is received and perceived. It is therefore key to build a relationship with your customers that goes past being transactional, and into something that is unequivocally positive and more personal, while also being channel independent.
- Link business operations to your customer value
Organizations that tightly link their business operations with the customer experience tend to reap greater rewards in terms of NPS® and more positive customer perceptions. So, whether you closely link (monitor NPS or customer experience performance on a daily basis and share information with managers to create a better alignment between business operations and NPS performance), or loosely link (monitor NPS or customer experience on a regular basis/fixed intervals basis), it is key to keeping (or making) your customers satisfied and happy.
By doing these things well, organizations will lay the foundation to be able to create experiences that deliver rapid and sustainable value for customers as well as for their organization.
To help organizations to keep their customers in mind at all times and to continuously remind themselves “for whom am I doing this?” is also helpful in establishing a customer centric organization. It is important to try to take a step back and challenge why you as an organization is engaged in a certain initiative or project – is it originated in a business need or in a customer need?
Although there of course is a balance to be found, many times, a business process originating from a customer need might end up bringing you and your organisation more value than one aimed at optimizing an internal process. It’s about balance and priorities, and when talking about customer centricity, starting with those customer oriented improvements and changes will help you see tangible results quicker – with happier customers coming along with it.
What will be needed from your organization to succeed?
Change always takes time, and often more than what is at hand. Becoming a customer centric organization requires among other things, a cultural and attitudinal change from employees; something that might cost more time and be more difficult than what many thinks. However, this is not the only thing that needs changing. To fully embrace a customer centric attitude, old ways of working must make way for completely new processes and ways of organizing the company that stems completely from customer needs. And how can this be done? It’s not only the culture that has to change, but to know what the customer needs, the right usage and capturing of data is what will make it possible in the first place. Without proper customer insights and strong customer relationships, finding out what the customer wants and needs is not an easy task. Thus, making sure that data is available and used in the right way becomes crucial for success. Lastly but not least, and closely related to the first point of changing culture, comes changing the way of working. Focus needs to be shifted from solving problems and optimizing processes for employees towards those that optimize processes and experiences for the customers. There is a paradigm shift needed to really turn this around, as businesses has been operating from an inside-out perspective for very long, and turning this around requires more than what one might think at a first glance.
Giving customer centricity a central place in the business by redesigning the organization around the customer and their needs also means re-thinking the way of operating. New structures and new teams, solely focused on delivering a specific part of the designated customer experience. This way of organizing oneself also stretches further than for example only marketing or consumer facing functions – it needs to be embedded in the whole organization; from finance to IT, from legal to customer services and further.
So, you’ve got all your data in place, your culture and your ways of working is purely designed and organized around making your customer experience as good as possible. Now what? How do you keep up? How do you ensure that you stay relevant? As customers’ needs and wants are constantly changing, staying alert and keep listening to your customers, will help you pick up changes. To be flexible and able to quickly adjust is what will distinguish a successful customer centric organization from an attempting one. To continue to evolve with your customers and not slow down the speed of renewing your organization once you crossed the first goal-line will help you to continuously learn, adopt and adjust.
This blog is the first in a series of three on the topic of customer centricity.