A customer-centric business model is undeniably effective. According to a study by Deloitte and Touche, it’s nearly 60% more effective in generating profits. But, here’s the thing: customer-centricity doesn’t just apply to one-on-one interactions with your clients. It’s not just putting on a smile and answering their questions. A truly customer-centric company will be thinking about the customer on every level of business, from product development to employee hiring. But what does that even look like?
What is customer-centricity?
Customer-centricity is simply putting the customer first. Your goal is to create a completely positive experience for your customer. This philosophy should be at the center of everything you do. A customer-centric business believes that it exists solely for the customer, and that all available resources should go to the customer first, not for the purpose of profits.
An example of a customer-centric business is Amazon. You’ve probably heard that they were founded under the vision of becoming “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” and now they are the biggest name in e-commerce and cloud computing. Coincidence? Probably not. Every Amazon employee — including Jeff Bezos — is required to spend two days every year at an Amazon call center, meaning every employee has the customer on the forefront of their mind. Our friends at Automattic take this even further. Each employee spends a one week rotation, twice a year, working with a Happiness Engineer buddy interacting with support tickets.
Why should my business be customer-centric?
It’s pretty simple: happy customers lead to loyal customers, and customer retention is the key to skyrocketing your growth. New customers are hard to find, especially now, when the internet enables customers with seemingly infinite information on you and your competitors. You can’t avoid being compared to someones else, which means once you’ve brought in a customer, it’s important to show them why they shouldn’t start looking elsewhere. Acquiring new customers costs 5 times more than keeping them, and a 2% increase in customer retention is equal to a 10% reduction in costs.
The internet has also given customers a platform to voice their opinions, both good and bad, on your company. This is great if you provide satisfactory service, but one bad customer experience could lead to a negative Tweet and suddenly, you haven’t only lost one customer, but all of their followers, as well.
How should my business implement a customer-centric model?
It’s easy to say that you put the customer first, but what does that actually look like? At the heart of a customer-centric model is a customer-centric business culture. A well-intentioned strategy can easily be hampered by operational constraints, so it’s important that every part of your organization’s business model is accounted for. Here are a few guiding principles to take into account.
Develop for the Customer
Whether you are developing a product or looking to expand your current services, it’s important to do so with your customer’s needs in mind. Develop what they want, not what you think they want. This will help in a couple of ways. First, you won’t waste time developing something no one wants. Second, you will stand out from your competition — a coffee shop that also sells breakfast sandwiches will attract more loyalty than a coffee shop that only sells drip coffee.
By taking customer insights into account, you will also understand your customers in ways that can be applied to other areas of your business model.
Facilitate Customer Interaction
If you don’t ask, you don’t know. Your customers should be able to easily voice their opinions, but you should also regularly seek them. Customer data is incredibly valuable, and can help you figure out what you are doing right or wrong, why they leave and why they stay. Tools like journey mapping or case studies are great ways to get this kind of information. Customers want to feel that you value their input, which means that you should also act when a complaint is filed. For example, if a customer thinks your mobile site is hard to navigate, it’s time to invest in some UX research and reevaluate.
Good Service (duh)
It sounds simple, but good, customer-centric service looks different from usual customer service models. Only 38% of US customers say that the employees they interact with truly understand their needs. Good, client-centric service takes the form of listening to customers, admitting your mistakes and, most importantly, thinking long term. The goal is to retain loyal customers, so establishing these customer service relationships and maintaining them is integral to your retention goals. Forgive the shameless plug, but Pressable support brings in a 95% happiness rating with post interaction feedback. Focusing on this effort drives all of our growth and development of product, partner relationships, and promotions.
Don’t Forget about Your Employees
‘But wait — you said to only think about the customer!’ Employees at every level have to sign on to the customer-centric model. This means that you have to show them that it works. And if employees are on board, it will translate to good customer experience. You can also tie employee compensation into customer centric performance, like by providing incentives to improve customer retention.
It’s also a good idea to keep your customer-centric model in mind when you are hiring. Gauging how candidates value customers is important to making good hiring decisions.
High customer retention means high growth, and high retention is achieved best through thinking about the customer in every part of your business. As you adopt a customer-centric business model, remember to consider your development process, your employees, and your customers that have moved on to other companies. It’s only when customer-centric company culture is in place that a customer-centric vision will really come to life.