What is Customer-Centric? Definition & Best Practices

The onboarding process is the official beginning of a direct and consensual relationship with a client, being the key moment in which it will be decided if the potential client becomes a current client of our company or abandons the attempt. This can be the start of a long relationship that customer-centric organizations can nurture to continue to invest in products or services.

What is customer-centric? 

‘Customer-centric’ essentially refers to companies putting the customers at the core of their business.

What does that mean?

It means that an organization transforms its structure. Every part of their business is related to ensuring that the customers is at the core of what they do. If an organization focuses on getting this right – they can assume that the rest will fall into place.

Many companies claim that they are (or like to think that they are) customer-centric. However, it isn’t so straightforward as one might suppose.

The challenges of becoming a customer-centric organization

As aforementioned, becoming a customer-centric organization doesn’t consist of making a few peripheral changes to the business. It is a full-on transformation. This is what a lot of businesses struggle to grasp. They attempt to become ‘customer-centric’ but do not start with the foundation of their business.

When companies make peripheral changes, they fail to become truly customer-centric, in fact, they frequently end up damaging their reputation by implementing marketing methods that mask process failings.

Organizations need to fully understand how they can transform in order to increase customer satisfaction. Many companies implement chic new models, often deployed with effective marketing campaigns, but process improvement and fundamental change are required or it is unlikely to work. Each organization needs to perceive itself (and its relationship with its customers) as unique.

Taking this into account, the research into how they can improve their customer service needs to be thorough. Once the research and the findings are sound, a company can figure out how to effectively move forward and pave the way to becoming successfully customer-centric.

Why Customer Centricity Is Important

So, why is customer-centricity so important?

It’s an interesting debate. The opposers suggest that a company can instead place other aspects of its business at its core and be more successful. However, this argument doesn’t hold water.

Why?

The modern world of business is making sure that organizations are held accountable for their customer service. On top of the technological developments, modern economic occurrences also support the argument that being customer-centric is fundamental:

“The power shift between brand and customer happened during the economic downturn in the late noughties as customers became more selective in which brand they chose to spend their money with” (Kulbyté, 2020).

We need to also consider the economic repercussions of COVID-19. The effects of the 2008 crisis led to customers opting for companies that provided excellent service, and nothing less, and we can expect to see a similar trend during and following the pandemic. When one considers the modern world and the future of the market economy, the importance of customer-centricity shouldn’t even be a question.

Best practices for becoming a customer-centric company 

You want to become a customer-centric business, but how do you go about doing it properly?

Let’s outline some concrete ways forward:

Get to know your customers. Run as much research as you can – what makes them tick? Evidence is proving the essentiality of retaining your clients: ‘Acquiring new customers can cost up to 5x more than keeping existing customers’.

– Communicate with your clientele. Let them show you the way forward.

In VASS we define customer journeys on software platforms, which is making sure that the customer is engaged in every step of the way. Then, we are able to measure all the touchpoints, defining SLAS for the company around due diligence.

  • Minimise churn: in order to escalate, the benefit of having it on a Customer Experience Platform is that you’re providing visibility of these touchpoints and you’re able to measure the impact of stuck applications in your system. By identifying blockages quickly in the journey, you can ensure employees can triage effectively.

You should be asking yourself, how are we performance monitoring your case handlers? And how quickly are you resolving or moving through this process?

  • Identify problem customers based on their previous applications or interactions. The reduction of churn between stages is a key piece to know how banks can calculate ROI on their customer service, reducing the times between and making decisions really easy.
  • Use decision points: recommend the best following steps. Based on the answers of the previous questions, you then recommend the next approach. In VASS, we educate our agents and spend time training them. We do eligibility checks on loans on people to be able to decide the best way forward.

As well as cementing your relationship with your existing customers, you need to keep a close eye on the market as a whole. Keep tabs on the actions and performances of other organizations in your sector. What steps are they taking to improve their customer-centricity. The idea here is not to copy them but to make sure that you are at least one step ahead of them.

Stay at least one step ahead of your competitors when it comes to customer-centricity. How do you do that? Don’t cut corners when it comes to innovation, research and creativity. All of these areas are crucial when it comes to ensuring that you are a cutting-edge customer-centric organization. You should always be brainstorming creative ways to go the extra mile for your customers.

Ways to measure the success of a customer-centric company

Once you’ve made your transformation, you need to accurately measure how successful your customer-centricity is. Once again, the key here is research. Don’t make the mistake of just relying on numbers, your profit margins might be going up, but this doesn’t always signify that your customer satisfaction is.

Do qualitative research. Plenty of it. Get to hear the opinions of your customers, get to know their emotions. What do they feel when they think of your company? Have they noticed any differences since your push to be a customer-centric organization? What were they? Etc.

The key to successful measurement is a healthy balance of both quantitative and qualitative means.

The three most important customer-centric metrics that should be carefully monitored are churn rate, Net Promoter Score and customer lifetime value (CLV). Utilising the power of Salesforce to push surveys and track results, ensures that you can automate the process and significantly reduce the overhead in the getting feedback. Next steps are to publish results in Salesforce using Dashboard and Reporting and sharing with relevant people.

Conclusion

When we take a step back and look at the modern world, it’s clear to see why ‘customer-centricity’ is a rising phenomenon. The service that a customer receives it increasingly transparent, thanks to technology. An organization needs to get their customer service spot on if they want to stay competitive and succeed. The need to deliver effective customer service has always been recognized, however it is now considered so fundamental, that companies have taken to transforming their core. In doing so, they have restructured their businesses – placing their customers as they over-arching priority. This ‘customer-centricity’ approach is powerful, effective and futuristic. If it’s implemented and measured properly, it works wonders for companies – regardless of what sector they are in.

Director – Salesforce Practice – UK & BENELUX
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