Customer Centricity isn’t merely a buzzword. Action it!
“Your website isn’t the center of your universe. Your Facebook page isn’t the center of your universe. Your mobile app isn’t the center of your universe. The customer is the center of your universe.” – Bruce Ernst.
Most companies claim to be customer-centric, but many don’t realize that an essential part of this involves
including the customers’ perspective into decision making. When a company is truly customer-centric, it puts the customer at the center of everything they do – no decision is made without taking the customer, their expectations and aspirations, into account.
Customer centricity means investing in customers and ensuring that everything you do is designed to fulfill their needs and desires. The importance of customer centricity lies in your company’s performance as studies show that companies that are truly customer-centric outperform their competition on a regular basis, often by a wide margin.
So, how can your organization adopt a more customer-centric approach? Read on to find out.
1. Start with Cultural Transformation
“Customer centricity starts by investing in a culture of putting the customer first.” – Brian Solis.
The first step to becoming a truly customer-centric company is to adopt a culture that puts the customer first as that is the biggest factor that will set you apart. In other words, your organization’s culture should be focused on the needs and desires of the customer and then ensuring that every action the company takes and every product or service it creates is designed to not only meet but exceed those needs and desires.
2. Make Sure the Company’s Management is on Board
“Good customer service begins at the top. If your senior people don’t get it, even the strongest links further down the line can become compromised.“ – Richard Branson.
Being customer centric must start from the top. A company’s senior management must support and be fully committed to adopting the culture they are trying to adopt. Leaders must lead by example and without full commitment from management to your customer-centric strategy, you are wasting your time.
The key to getting your management to commit is to get them to interact directly with customers so that they can gain first-hand knowledge of what their desires and needs are but also of what the company is delivering.
3. Achieve Buy-In At All Levels
“Customer service shouldn’t be a department; it should be the entire company.” – Tony Hsieh.
Achieving management commitment is essential, but it will be worth nothing if you can’t get the rest of the company on board. Beyond leading by example, the company’s management must ensure that employees understand what it means to be customer-centric and that every action will impact the customer and the company.
Every person in your company needs to understand what their role is in delivering great customer service and ensuring a delightful customer experience. Because, every employee has a part to play in achieving a fully customer-centric culture, no matter how obscure it might seem.
4. Empower and Reward Your Employees
“To achieve consistently terrific customer service, you must hire wonderful people who believe in your company’s goals, habitually do better than the norm and who will love their jobs; make sure that their ideas and opinions are heard and respected; then give them the freedom to help and solve problems for your customers. Rather than providing rules or scripts, you should ask them to treat the customer as they themselves would like to be treated — which is surely the highest standard.” – Richard Branson.
Achieving employee buy-in is all well and good but you can’t stop there. You need to give them the power to act on their knowledge and experience, and you also need to listen to them. They have invaluable insight into your customers and ignoring them is a big mistake.
And when they do a good job, reward them. Don’t tie your reward structure solely to revenues because, over the long term, the employee that delights customers will generate more revenue for your company than the one who pulls big sales numbers in the short-term but puts building long-term customer relationships in the backseat.
LISTEN & EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES!
5. Pay Attention to Your Customers
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs.
A lot of companies claim they listen to their customers, citing the numerous surveys they conduct as proof. Unfortunately, many companies have the bad habit of conducting surveys but not truly paying attention to the information they receive.
Surveys are very effective but it’s not enough. You can’t only take a bird’s eye view of everything. You need to drill down and understand what drives the numbers you are seeing. Even if this means going through each individual survey, you will witness first hand that you reap spectacular rewards from the time and resources you invest.
6. Address Customer Perceptions
“The customer’s perception is your reality.” – Kate Zabriskie.
How the customer perceives your organization is their reality and it should be yours. It doesn’t matter how great you think the customer experience is, but how customers perceive it. And those perceptions need to be uncovered and all your actions geared to changing them into what you want them to be.
7. Integrate Customers into Every Process
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton.
If you want your organization to thrive, then you can’t make a single decision without integrating the customer. From product creation to things as small as the toilet paper you buy, you must take the customer’s viewpoint into account.
8. Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes
“People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.
Mapping the customer journey is essential to understanding every aspect of their interactions with your business. Once you walk a mile in their shoes, you’ll have a better understanding of their needs and desires are at every touchpoint and how well you’re doing in fulfilling them. Without this understanding, exceeding customer expectations is going to be virtually impossible.
9. Keep an Eye on All Customer Interactions
“Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can.” – Gary Comer.
Being customer centric means putting the customer at the center of everything and is, clearly, an ongoing process. Everything in life changes, including people, which means that you need to be listening and monitoring your customers and their interactions with your company on a regular basis. Every touchpoint and its performance needs to be watched carefully to ensure that you are still meeting your customer-centric vision.
True customer-centricity means putting the customer at the heart of your business. Every decision made and every action taken must be focused on the customer. It’s a matter of asking yourself what would the customer do in XYZ situation, but to answer that you need to gain an in-depth understanding of who your customers are, what their desires, needs, dreams, fears and problems are. Once you know your customers, you can truly serve their needs.
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