What it actually means to be customer-centric
Working as a CSO, one could think that of course, you must be customer-centric… But I noticed that some of my peers don’t really understand what customer centricity actually means, they are still too much “product” focused.
So, what does customer-centricity mean? Does defining it even matter? It definitely does!
While customer-centricity is not a new term on the block, it is increasingly used in different contexts, including digital marketing, the customer’s life cycle, and customer experience. However, many persons use the term without really knowing what it means.
Customer-centric is the fusion of two words “customer” and “center”. It is an approach which involves doing business with a focus on creating a positive customer experience. Adopting a customer-centric approach can add value to an organization and help it stand out from competitors who do not provide superior customer experience.
While we have defined customer-centricity, it is only a scratch on the surfaces. Businesses must act in a certain way to become genuinely customer-centric. This is because a customer-centric company does not just help customers but understand them.
Simply put, customer-centric is a strategy as well as a culture.
The concept that “customer is king” is customer psychology 101! Many executives today claim that their business is customer-centric, but this is only abstract for some. A genuinely customer-centric culture is pragmatic – it is telling through steps and actions an organization takes. In this case, the customer-centric strategy cuts across the board. It is not the sole responsibility of the customer service representatives, but the CEO, purchaser, blog writer, engineer, etc.
Customer-centricity is a mental orientation which compels an organization to take action. But why is it important?
Today’s savvy companies go customer-centric for many reasons, but a primary one is that it is difficult to land new customers. If your product or service is not brand new in the world, most of your customers will evaluate your offering against your direct competitors or equivalents. For instance, a restaurant at one end of a street is always compared to another restaurant at the other end.
Gaining new customers can be expensive as it could require discounts or promotions, so keeping the customers you already have is a great way to make more sales. For instance, if a pizza shop adds pasta and drinks to its offering, it would gain more of the restaurant budget of their existing customer. So always ask yourself “what does the customer actually need?”.
Today, companies have the opportunity to interact with their customers and target groups directly. The focus must lie on building long-term relationships by focusing on serving customer segments instead of pushing products to customers. This is a radical shift from product-centricity to customer-centricity.
Securing repeat customers for your business by offering superior services is a savvy strategy for a customer-centric company. These companies can create an exceptional customer experience that their customers do not feel they will get the same quality of service and attention from any other company.
The path towards becoming a truly customer-centric company can be long and even challenging, but it begins with a simple step. With the right mentality, you can move into utilizing vital customer data to provide a top-quality experience for your customers – and ensure steady growth for your company, now and well into the future.
Interested to understand more?
Learn for example how metrics (KPIs) must change from product profitability to customer profitability. I recommend reading this article:
Rust, R. T., Moorman, C., and G. Bhalla (2010), “Rethinking Marketing,” Harvard Business Review, 88 (1/2), 94-101. (reprinted in Harvard Business Review (2013): On Strategic Marketing. HBR’s 10 Must reads. Harvard Business Publishing)
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