According to Forrester’s Customer Experience Index 200 (CEI 200), companies with a customer-centric culture have a higher valuation as compared to their competitors. Customer experience and customer centricity are often used synonymously in the context of business approach. While the two may sound similar, they are quite different. Customer experience is what a customer gets when interacting with a business from the point of consideration, purchase and after; this includes customer service, customer journey and so on. Customer centricity, on the other hand, is what motivates the business to provide customers an experience in the first place. Simply put, in order to deliver a good customer experience, organisations first need to adopt a customer-centric approach.
What does customer centricity entail?
Several experienced marketers emphasise on the importance of personalised interaction with the customers since a personalised approach significantly increases the chances of inciting a positive response. Zomato’s customer service chat option is an excellent example of how to encourage a personalised interaction with your customers.
Another essential aspect to develop customer centricity is to engage with your customers actively. Glossier, for example, has a high-level involvement from its online fan base, through direct questions or Q&A with founder, Emily Weiss. This direct engagement contributes largely towards the brand’s marketing and product-line.
A customer most likely uses multiple channels to engage with a brand in a single service interaction. The said customer, who uses different channels, is likely to be frustrated if the experiences on different channels are inconsistent. Taking an example of visual consistency, visiting Amazon on a browser or through the app, conveys the same message, offers and uses consistent display.
The shift to customer centricity
While every business wishes to replicate the customer experience that Amazon has been able to provide, the transformation of a business to be customer-centric requires planning and customer journey mapping across the entire process, ecosystem, and experience.
1. Invest in people
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, is notorious for forwarding his executives, customer complaint emails, with a single character: a question mark. A single question mark implies that the executive needs to treat the concern as a top priority and report back within hours. Bezos explains that these customer complaints give him foresight and if data says one thing while the customer says another, he believes the customer. Similarly, in an organisation, it is vital to invest in people who can be in-line with the philosophy of prioritising the customer. The more you engage and invest in your customers, the more clarity you get as to what the next steps should be.
2. Listen to customers
Perhaps it sounds like the most obvious step when talking about customer experience; listening is more than simply acknowledging the customer’s complaints and feedback. Cisco, for example, continuously “obsesses” over their customers’ needs, their business goal, when to feed them content, etc., and observe what their customers say throughout their journey. Through this process Cisco adapts their approach and develops a user experience based on predictable patterns; this, in turn, leads to consistency in delivering the excellent customer experience.
3. Create awareness
Customer centricity is not limited to the top management of the organisation, each and every member of your organisation should not only be aware of the customer-centric vision but also strive to live up to the customer expectations and beyond. We can look back at the Jeff Bezos story, where he serves as the guardian of the company’s customer-centric approach. This tells us that keeping the focus on customers can be challenging, but having a single person or a single depart to serve as the customer’s voice is not enough.
4. Involve everyone
Creating a customer-centric culture requires the involvement of every department, across all the verticals in the organisation. As mentioned in the beginning, an organisation needs to be customer-centric to deliver quality customer experience. Each department plays a vital role in ensuring the delivery of high-quality customer experience.
Transitioning towards a truly customer-centric organisation is lengthy, complicated and tedious; but the benefits to the business, employees, and customers are significantly high. Being a customer-centric organisation is the critical step towards realising the potential of customer value.