I see very few companies that seem to understand that when employees are satisfied, customers are usually satisfied too. I also see very few companies that go the extra mile, that have customer satisfaction as a core value, and hardly anyone that provide experiences that please their customers again and again. Companies need to show interest in and understand the importance of customer-centricity to have to take their first steps to please their customers in every encounter.
Right now, being acutely aware of service is more important than ever. Many CEOs are concerned about their customer loyalty, realising that the sovereignty of the customer agenda is essential.
So, as a decision-maker, how do you build a company culture that not only emphasises customer service but truly is driven by its customer-oriented outlook at every possible moment? How do you get customer-centricity into the DNA of your company?
Customer-centricity is an unusual way of doing business, fostering a positive customer experience in all interactions, at every stage of their buying journey.
Live customer-centricity to increase customer loyalty and customer satisfaction; it will lead to referrals to more customers. When a customer-centric company makes a decision, it profoundly and severely considers the effect the outcome will have on its customers.
Building a customer-centric company in this digitalised och onlinified world is challenging and sometimes complicated.
While technologies have allowed you and your company to roll out technical changes quickly, there is now an increased expectation from your customers for more considerable attention and accessibility.
Why is customer-centricity important?
There's a whole lot of reasons that motivate entrepreneurs to create products, services and new enterprises — passion, money, fame, glory, and independence, to mention a few.
Regardless of the purpose behind founding a company, there's one tenant that's common to all enterprises:
If your company don't retain customers, it won't survive. From this simple statement, you can assure the importance of being customer-centric. An organisation that forgets about how it is to be one of their customers will fail. They will become obsolete.
A customer-centric company proves the opposite. All co-workers listen to their customers and align with customer CPIs. In turn, the company builds its offering to meet its customer's challenges and needs, anticipates what the customers want, and provide proactive service that keeps their customers coming back.
So, how can you keep up with this cultural challenge? You must create a customer-centric company culture. It begins with you, right here, right now.
If you strive to become a customer-centric organisation, there's one way to make the value spread like wildfire through your organisation:
Make customer-centricity the core of your company culture and behaviour.
Always ask and answer how your decided actions, initiative, services and features help and make it easier to be your customer? If this question is difficult to explain, put it on the parking lot until you have the right answer.
That can be a good start building a customer-centric culture in your departments and teams.
Customer-centricity makes customers a part of your company's message. By using the inbound methodology and customer advocacy, you are helpful and relevant to your customers.
All your departments and teams can get on board with this approach and meet a customer-focused strategy. To be customer-centric requires that you meet your prospects' needs and desires. And if you previously have mainly reacted to incoming requests, customer-centricity will force you to be actively helpful. You must practice knowledge leadership, rather than doing the same things you always have done.
If you're looking to develop this approach in your company, I have listed my suggested steps for you and your company to take to become customer-centric.
As mentioned above, customer-centricity begins with your company's culture. If you want to become customer-centric, your company needs to make a company-wide commitment to the importance of your customer's success. Hopefully, the suggested steps below explain what you and your company could do to achieve the desired future state.
Anticipate your customer's challenges and needs
Most companies can provide a description of what they want and need today, but assessing what they wish to achieve on a longer time horizon is extremely difficult for most companies. So focus on their short term challenges and needs and try to help them to define what they desire long-term.
To create a customer-centric culture, you will need to interact frequently and regularly with your customers. In this digitalised world, there are countless encounters where you can actively collect feedback. There is a minimum number of touchpoints that you should use to communicate with your customers and prospects, e.g., chat, email, video meetings, phone calls and instant messaging.
Valuable customer interactions and communication can occur on so many different platforms, and the customer decides what platform they prefer and when.
Every internal department, individual and team should be prepared to use all preferred channels to interact with and learn about customers. And the number of quantitative insights you and your company will receive from these interactions will help you as you make needed adjustments to your offering.
You also need to be proactive when collecting qualitative feedback. While the interactions mentioned above likely already occur in your company, user research is something you need to understand and prioritise.
Here are three customer research techniques you should consider:
By asking your customers, you can gain insights and track your performance based on their experiences. Some companies already understand and know the high value of surveys, and through frequent customer satisfaction surveys, they have a torrent of customer feedback.
Download the NPS presentations to learn how to implemtent a NPS and increase the NPS-survey response rate.
The value of user testing is priceless. Modern tools, eg. Hotjar provides a framework to collect feedback. In the ambition to build a customer-centric company, tools like Hotjar can help you to validate your hunches and guide you towards the highest-impact prioritisations and initiatives.
Easy to access
We have all experienced that companies try to make it as difficult as possible to interact with customer support. There's an enormous financial and time expenditure used in servicing your customers, and many companies hide their support behind too many layers.
For example, try to find a phone number on LinkedIn's help page. I am not sure it is possible. LinkedIn seems to prefer to communicate through their help articles.
On the other side of the rainbow, there are companies with the opposite approach to customer success. Companies that identify that when you want to talk to them, they should try to make it as easy as possible for you. They usually include their phone number and tell you that they are available 24/7.
One of your most important features is to make sure that your company's contact page is visible and very easy to access — and provide answers to common customer questions through your chatbot.
Meet with your customers
One of the biggest plagues facing companies is the loss of feedback from in-person meetings. Today, it's easier than ever for you and your company to have short F2F meetings through video with your customers and prospects.
To enable direct human interactions when they want them is an essential part of your company's business. Distribute learnings from these meetings internally for other colleagues to learn. I believe that you must provide the possibility for your customers and prospects to be able to book meeting directly in your experts and salles reps calendars, through your website.
In most companies, this is not the case. Companies should bring back the in-person experience, hosting in-person events is beneficial in your quest to being customer-centric.
Practice proactive service and support
To differentiate your company, you should try to provide your prospects and customers with real value that extends beyond their point of purchase, to show that you genuinely invest in delighting them.
You could provide, e.g. proactive customer service features. Proactive customer service gives your customers additional resources that can help them to solve their problems and challenges without having to reach out to you for support. This way they can solve simple problems and avoid waiting on hold for your customer service.
A pricing page may seem a simple addition, and it could increase your lead generation process significantly. I claim that a pricing page will encourage customers and prospects to reach out to you to learn more about your offering. Everyone involved in B2B knows that your prices on your products and services are negotiable and volume-based.
Customer support and service tools
The customer's experience with your company is just as important as the product or service you're providing. Customers want to enjoy their entire buying experience. You must make the customer interactions provided productive and enjoyable.
To adopt the right customer service tools is playing an important role to create a customer-centric experience. Customer service tools help customer service teams create seamless support systems that provide immediate solutions to customers problems. By doing that, customers will be more satisfied because the company is investing in their short-term convenience and long-term success.
So, invest in, e.g. a chatbot to increase the experience for your customers. A chatbot can create a light-hearted and friendly conversation with users. The chatbot must provide clear and concise answers and to provide advises that best fit their needs and budget.
Secure additional business
Your company's aim to get your prospects and customers to purchase your product or service. However, when your customers buy once, you want to ensure that they buy again. After all, it's cheaper to retain an existing customer than to attain a new one.
So, provide your customers with added advantages that extend beyond their point of purchase. These advantages should help customers to achieve their purposes and objectives and to create a memorable experience. By doing so, your customers will begin to affiliate their success with your company's offering.
If you want to create and provide a customer-centric culture, you and your company must ensure that your customers get the most from your offering. They will be more inclined to return to you and your company when they're ready for an additional purchase.
One of the best methods for optimising your offering's value is to set up an onboarding process. An onboarding process will introduce your offering to the customers and explain how to use it to fulfil their specific needs, and to solve their challenges. Personalise the process to ensure that every customer is appropriately set up for success.
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.