Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation in India once chided a boastful shopkeeper by telling him that he wasn’t favoring his customer by providing the best of materials but the customer was favoring him by visiting his shop and buying from him!
Why it has taken such a long period of time for marketers to realize this simple issue remains a mystery for many. True, in today’s digital marketing era a company can not survive unless its services are customer –centric, but then it does not merely mean fair service – something much more than that. It precisely means identifying with the customers’ mindset – what satisfies them most, as well as, when. A customer’s requirements in summer dramatically changes with the onset of winter. For a business to prosper it has to follow the trend and offer merchandise accordingly. If you study the sales campaign periodically organized by Amazon over a period of time, you will have some idea of this. However, organizing a customer-centric strategy for a business doesn’t happen overnight, yet you need to start somewhere. This blog post is intended to guide you in towards achieving this.
What does customer-centric point out to?
To be very, very precise, customer-centric is not all about the great service that you offer but the great experience that you kept in store for your customers and share it with them. It may start from the awareness stage, pass through the purchasing process and then linger through the after-sales relationship. In other words, you need to put your customer at the core of your business.
When you put your customer at the core of your business, you are sure to be rewarded with a wealth of data within your CRM software that will provide you almost 360˚ view of the customer, which you can use to heighten the customer experience. This includes:
- Using customer data to know the buying behavior, engagement level and interests
- Identifying opportunities and leveraging these to create appropriate products and services for the customer
- Using customer lifetime value and segmenting these to treat them accordingly
Incidentally, these meaningful exercises not only pave the way towards better business sense but also better profitability, as revealed by relevant research conducted by Deloitte and Touche who found that customer-centric businesses “were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer.”
The confrontations that customer-centric organizations faced
To be specific, it was most challenging. The power shift amongst brand and customers occurred during the last economic upheaval when customers became fully selective in choosing the brand on which they could spend their money with and stay put there. However, it was found that the winning brands were those that treated their customers with due respect, individualistic service as also created good relationship. And this process is very much active today.
At around the same time, social media also exploded onto the scene, while mobile occupied the major means of search for most. This provided a new and novel way for customers to compare and evaluate products and services on their own even when on the go, thus presenting a formidable challenge for many brands.
Needless to say, to overcome all these, you need to restart your machinery with your customers and not with your products, while focusing more on what your customers intend to do. In other words, you need to redesign your business, implying on the customer’s perspective to figure out what they want, how they want and when they want it.
Ways and means to becoming a customer-centric Company
The key towards becoming customer-centric entail your power to foresee your customer’s needs (even seasonal needs) and enchanting them with products and services they perhaps themselves did not think of. This measure of enchantment or delight, whatever you may like to call, worked wonderfully well with the arrival of Apple’s iPhone or iPad that took the world by surprise and an immense amount of pleasurable user experience. However, the entire credit in this case goes to the foresight of the dear departed soul of Steve Jobs, who along with a few others conceptualized this fascinating device and won the heart of millions of users.
However, here are some of the guidelines to promote customer centricity.
- Brands that are dedicated to customer-centricity must focus on what the customers want and need, while developing products and services that fulfill such needs.
- Brands committed to customer centricity should truly believe that right or wrong, customer comes first in selecting product or services. They also need to be in their customers’ shoes to know what suits them best. Marketers working for customer centric organizations should use customer data to align customer insights and share this across the organization for better implementation.
- Brands that are committed to customer centricity should focus on building relationships designed to maximize the customer’s product and service experience.
- Brands that are committed to customer centricity should analyze, plan and implement a carefully formulated customer strategy that focuses on creating and keeping loyal customer.
The beginning of this blog post started with what Mahatma Gandhi had remarked about what the true relationship between a customer and a vendor should be, while the end too resonates with the same sermon.
The customer is the backbone of any business, so what else should a business be identified with other than becoming customer centric? Well, nothing else, my friend, to be precise.