- A customer-centric business focuses on the customer experience at every step of the buying journey.
- Whether someone is just learning about your brand for the first time or buying for the 50th, putting their satisfaction first will increase brand loyalty.
- A loyal audience can be leveraged for repeat business, positive reviews and referrals, all of which drive the growth of your company.
- This article is for entrepreneurs who want to improve their brand loyalty and customer engagement.
By being customer-centric, your business has the potential to improve its image, boost brand loyalty and achieve repeat sales. An increased focus on the way you and your team interact with your customers can be the difference between building a base of repeat, loyal customers and missing out on opportunities to cultivate repeat business.
What it means to be customer-centric
Customer-centric simply means making the customer's experience the key focus of every interaction. From the moment customers are first introduced to your brand to the time they make a purchase, you want to build systems that facilitate consistently positive customer experiences.
Being customer-centric is more than being polite and delivering on what you promise; it's nurturing a company culture that works to satisfy and impress customers. At customer-centric companies, every decision is centered on how it will affect the consumer experience.
Key takeaway: Customer-centric businesses focus on the consumer experience with every decision and interaction.
Why having a customer-centric strategy is important
Although customers have always been an essential part of any marketing strategy, a focus on the customer has become even more important in the modern digital-first environment. Technology has increased the competition for users' attention, and a customer-centric approach can help you stand out to both potential and existing customers. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has limited face-to-face interaction between businesses and customers.
Here are some of the benefits of having a customer-centric business:
It helps you build brand loyalty.
If you aren't making your customers' experience your top priority, they will be less engaged and look to your competitors instead. A customer-centric approach, by contrast, allows you to connect with customers and build brand loyalty. Consider these statistics curated from GetVoIP:
- 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them.
- Customers who rate a company as delivering a good customer experience are 34% more likely to purchase more and 37% more likely to recommend the company.
- 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
It can boost the results of your ad campaigns.
A customer-centric approach keeps your customers enthusiastic about your brand and gives you insight into their preferences and needs, allowing you to better serve them and target your marketing campaigns more effectively.
When you connect with your customers and understand their needs, your marketing efforts will be more relevant, allowing you to focus your spending on advertisements that resonate with your customers, conduct research and development on topics that interest them, and engage prospects and customers effectively.
It protects your image.
Potential customers are actively looking for product-and-service reviews from real customers. Sites such as Yelp, Google Business, Etsy and Amazon actively recruit reviews so their users can get an idea of the reliability of the seller, product or service, and there are countless accounts on Instagram and YouTube devoted to reviewing a wide variety of products and services.
A customer-centric approach allows you to understand what your customers want and respond to their feedback. If that feedback is negative, you can proactively reach out to address their needs and resolve the situation. On the other hand, if you fail to satisfy your customers, you risk turning your biggest assets – your clients – into the biggest threat to your company as they pass on that negative image of your brand.
Key takeaway: A customer-centric strategy allows you to understand your customers' needs, focus on the most effective marketing strategies, and improve your image by encouraging brand advocates to spread the word through positive reviews.
Cultivating a customer-centric culture
Cultivating a customer-centric culture must start at the top of the organization. Company leaders must empower and train customer service representatives to proactively engage with customers to ensure they have the best experience possible. Here are a few examples of how to cultivate a customer-centric culture:
- Offer free samples.
- Give out partial refunds for minor issues.
- Establish customer loyalty programs.
Your leadership team must put these kinds of programs in place so that your customer service representatives can take care of your customers in a way that flawlessly demonstrates the high value your company places on your customers' satisfaction.
Key takeaway: A big part in helping build a strong customer-centric company is choosing a good CRM software platform to help make the right decisions.
Examples of customer-centric companies
Here are just a few examples of companies that have exemplified a customer-centric culture:
Starbucks has earned a reputation for putting its customers first. Viral videos, such as "Customer's Racist Mask Rant After Refusing to Cover Her Face in California Starbucks," show Starbucks employees being polite to customers who many would argue don't deserve it. This comes from a company culture that actively encourages and trains employees to be respectful, even to rude and angry customers. Other consumers take notice, thus improving the brand's image.
Amazon excels at using data to help customers find exactly what they want. Algorithms suggest books and other items you might be interested in based on past purchases or what you're currently browsing, and a robust review system helps consumers make better purchasing decisions. The company is also known for having excellent customer service and a good return/refund policy.
Il Makiage is a beauty brand that has gained a cult following by treating its customers like superstars. The company uses its Instagram account to showcase customers who are wearing Il Makiage products and offers a "love it or don't pay us" 14-day trial period for the company's most popular product.
Key takeaway: Companies of all sizes can benefit from putting customers first.
How to build a customer-centric company
Now that you understand why it's important to create a customer-centric strategy for your company, it's time to start building that strategy. Focus on these key areas, and you'll be well on your way:
Seek customers' feedback, and use it to anticipate their needs.
There are many ways to find out what your customers are thinking, what they want and what they wish you'd do better. For example, you can send follow-up emails a week after a delivery or service asking customers to fill out a survey or leave you a review. To help incentivize them to take these actions, you can offer a discount.
If you have a smaller company, you may want to take the time to talk with your customers personally via direct message on various social media platforms, on the phone or via video chat. The detailed feedback you'll receive from these conversations can help improve your marketing, product development and customer service.
While it's great to listen to your customers and leverage their feedback, it's even better to anticipate their needs. When you can do this, they'll be drawn to you because they will feel seen, understood and valued.
Provide top-notch customer service.
Stellar customer service isn't just about sales consultants and customer service teams; it's also about the ease with which your customers receive support. If you're relying on the traditional 9-to-5 model of call-in support, you have a lot of room for growth in the realm of customer-centric customer service.
For example, nearly 4 billion people around the world use social media, according to We Are Social, so if you aren't making it easy for customers to interact with you on social media or their smartphones, it's time to brainstorm ways to make this happen easily. For example, you can use chatbots on Facebook or your website to get customers the help they need without having to wait on hold.
Another strategy to consider is becoming proactive. What information can you make easily accessible everywhere so customers don't need to contact your company to get the support they need? For example, you can put pricing information on your website so customers can determine if they can afford your service or product, include return-and-exchange instructions with package deliveries or post links to videos that help customers troubleshoot common support issues. By asking your customer service team which questions they get asked most often, you'll know exactly where to start.
Nurture customers every step of the way.
When someone joins your email list, you are presented with a wonderful opportunity for engagement that could lead to sales. Try doing the following:
- Teach subscribers something.
- Add value to their life.
- Give them the opportunity to save money.
- Invite them to earn free items with a loyalty program.
- Urge them to connect with your free content.
You know what your customers like, and if you give it to them, they will be more inclined to continue reading your emails instead of unsubscribing.
Nurturing customers is also important after you make a sale. If you forget about your customers right after taking their money, they are likely to forget about you, too. Make sure you find a way to thank your customers or prospects.
How can you delight a customer who has just purchased a car with your dealership? Offer them a free oil change as a thank-you. Or, if someone made an online purchase, send them a free sample of a product they might like or a coupon code for joining your email list. Be creative!
Key takeaway: To build a customer-centric company, seek customer feedback, anticipate customers' needs, provide excellent customer service and nurture customers on their sales journey.