6 min read
How to Build a Customer-Centric Culture
Imagine for a moment that a customer, who wants to buy a product or service, is faced with several similarly priced products with comparable features. Which will they choose? Well, when they can’t compare products on price or features, customers will often select a product or service based on the customer experience. As such, the customer experience is a vital ingredient to your business’s success.
And here, a customer-centric culture is crucial as it allows you to build long-lasting relationships with your customers which, in turn, lets you generate more revenue. But what is a customer-centric culture and, more importantly, how do you build one? Let’s take a look.
What is a Customer-Centric Culture?
At the core of a customer-centric culture is about putting your customers first in everything that you do. Now, this might sound relatively simple, but it’s in actual fact more complex. The thing is, customer-centricity is about more than just thinking of your customers in everything you do.
True customer-centricity involves truly understanding your customers, what they want and expect, how they like to communicate and engage with your business, and what they don’t like. And once you have this understanding, a customer-centric culture involves implementing strategies, based on this understanding, to deliver stellar customer experiences.
Ultimately, to sum up, a customer-centric culture is not just a state of mind, but rather a strategy that you implement to create a deeper understanding of your customers, enhance your customer experience, build stronger relationships with them, and meet their needs and expectations more effectively.
Benefits of a Customer-Centric Organization
Now that you know what a customer-centric culture is, the immediate question is: Why is it important? In other words, what benefits will you enjoy if you implement customer-centricity in your business? Well, there are several benefits when you do this.
For one, you’ll be able to create a unique customer experience that can help your business stand out. This is an especially relevant consideration in a competitive market filled with similarly-priced products that all have similar features. It’s this unique customer experience that helps you get more market share, generate more revenue, and makes customers come back for more.
Another benefit is that you’ll improve customer satisfaction significantly. This is simply because, in order to implement this strategy, you’ll need to determine what your customers like and what they don’t. So, when you implement your strategy, you’ll tailor your offering based on what your customers want and expect. And when you give customers what they want, they’ll be more satisfied.
Apart from these benefits, you’ll also be able to take advantage of new opportunities in the market. When you understand your customers, you’ll not only know what they want and what they don’t, but you’ll also be able to identify any needs that are unfulfilled. You can then take advantage of these opportunities by offering your customers a solution that meets these needs.
Ultimately, when you implement a customer-centric strategy in your business, you’ll improve the customer experience, serve your customers better, and build stronger relationships and brand loyalty.
Challenges of Becoming a Customer-Centric Organization
Considering the benefits of a customer-centric culture mentioned above, it sounds great, doesn’t it? It does, but it’s important to remember that there are several challenges businesses often face when they want to make the shift to a customer-centric approach.
The first major challenge businesses often encounter, relates to the customer data they use. To truly understand what your customers want and expect, you should gather data from across your entire business. As such, you’ll typically gather data from your CRM, sales software, marketing platforms, and more.
The problem is that many businesses use disparate systems that don’t facilitate this. As a result, they end up with data silos and an incomplete understanding of who their customers are. The key to understanding your customers and implementing a truly customer-centric approach is eliminating these data silos by using systems and processes that facilitate data-sharing across your entire business.
Another significant challenge businesses frequently encounter is getting buy-in from across the business to implement a customer-centric strategy. Here, your team might already be accustomed to doing things in a certain way and using specific tools to do their jobs.
To implement a customer-centric approach, you’ll need to change this culture completely. This often involves shifting from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric approach, which, in turn, means using new tools and implementing new processes. And employees typically don’t adjust easily to changes in their workflows and processes. Fortunately, there is a solution for this. To foster this culture, you’ll need to take a top-down approach that starts with management.
If your team realizes that management is using this approach, they’ll soon follow and, once you’ve demonstrated the benefits of using a customer-centric approach, you’ll get the buy-in you require to make it a success.
How to Develop a Customer-Centric Culture
Now that we’ve seen what a customer-centric approach is, what its benefits are, and what challenges you could encounter, let’s look at some simple tips you can use to make the transition a bit easier.
Change Your Hiring Practices
It’s simple, when you want to successfully implement a customer-centric, you need to hire customer-centric talent. This will ensure that your team is aligned with your customer-centric strategy and that they, in every interaction with your customers, their workflows, and processes, put your customers at the forefront. This is especially important for those employees who directly interact with your customers, as these interactions, to a large extent, shape the customer experience.
Make Empathy Part of Your Business
Customer-centricity depends on your understanding of your customers, their needs and expectations, and how you can meet these needs. As such, empathy forms a vital component of your customer-centric approach. To ensure that your employees, no matter where they work in your business, empathize with your customers, you need to make it part of your business processes.
Democratize Customer Data
As mentioned earlier, data forms the backbone of your customer-centric approach. Also, as mentioned, it’s one of the major challenges businesses face when implementing a customer-centric strategy. To eliminate this, you should democratize customer data across your entire business.
When you do, you’ll make customer data available to every team member which, in turn, ensures that every employee understands your customers, their needs, and how best to serve them to meet these needs.
Emphasize Customer Relationships
To be truly customer-centric, it’s vital to emphasize customer relationships. When you do, your team will see customers as people and not just numbers or avenues to generate revenue. In turn, your team will place customers first in everything they do. From customers’ perspective, once they realize they’re treated as people, they’ll also trust you more and be more loyal.
Promote Customer-Employee Interactions
To implement your customer-centric approach, you should promote direct interactions between your employees and customers. This serves two purposes. For one, the interactions between your employees and customers shape the customer experience and the relationships you can build with your customers. Moreover, when your employees interact with your customers directly, they’ll understand their needs and expectations better.
Connect Compensation and Customer Experience
To promote a customer-centric culture, you should link your employees’ compensation to the customer experience. So, for example, you’ll incentivize your employees to reach certain customer experience goals, much like you would incentivize a salesperson to reach sales targets and goals. By tying compensation to the customer experience, you’ll ensure that everyone across your entire business is aligned with your customer-centric approach.
Measuring a Customer-Centric Organization
When you don’t measure something, you won’t have the insights you need to improve it. As such, you’ll need to consistently measure how well your customer-centric strategy performs. When you do, you’ll learn where you can make any improvements and what effect any improvements have on your customer experience.
To measure how effective your approach is, you can consider these metrics:
- Churn rate. How well you’re able to retain customers is an excellent indication of your customer experience and, by implication, how effective your customer-centric approach is. Here, your churn rate shows you how many customers you lose over a specific period, and the lower this figure, the more effective your strategy. To calculate your churn rate, you’ll divide the total number of customers lost by the total number of customers for a specific period.
- Customer lifetime value (CLV). Your customer lifetime value or CLV shows you how much revenue you generate from every customer for as long as they’re a paying customer of your business. So, the higher this value, the higher your customer satisfaction and the effectiveness of your strategy to build long-term relationships with your customers.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS). The Net Promoter Score or NPS is a measurement of how likely a customer would be to recommend your brand to others. A high score (9–10) indicates a promoter that’s likely to promote your business, while a low score (0–6) indicates a detractor that’s more likely to damage your reputation. The NPS thus is a direct reflection of the customer experience and how well your customer-centric approach is working.
Developing a Consistent Customer-Centric Culture Helps a Business Thrive
In a competitive market, it’s crucial that you offer exceptional customer experiences. This, more often than not, involves taking a customer-centric approach in your business. Hopefully, this post helped illustrate what a customer-centric approach is and how you can develop a consistent customer-centric culture that will make your business thrive.
Greg is the product marketer for ULTATEL. He develops and markets products that help people do their best work, and enables the businesses they work for grow their revenue.