Customer-centric Strategy and Focus

“Customer experience needs to be a competence, not a function. The end game is to have a customer-centric culture and a set of customer-centric processes, at which point customer-centricity becomes self-sustaining.”- Harley Manning

A customer-centric strategy for a company would be to look at the company from the customer’s perspective rather than focusing on itself. It is about understanding the problems faced by customers and doing whatever the company can to provide the most effective solutions. A company with a customer-centric strategy will focus on looking beyond just offering good customer service but rather building a culture and mind-set that revolves around the customers and their expectations and needs. A commitment towards creating customer value will be apparent in everything that the company would do and every person within the organization would need to comply. As with any business imperative, building and putting a customer-centric strategy into action is not an overnight or one-time process.

Building and displaying a customer-centric strategy is about ensuring that every experience a customer has is pleasant and memorable and ensuring that the customer is placed ‘first’. A customer-centric strategy is now crucial to the survival of any company since anything less than that would push customers to any of the many competitors. Building and sustaining a customer-centric strategy is not easy but consistently focusing on it will give any company the much-required competitive edge.

A consistent focus on the customer will ensure a better understanding of them. The data gathered through the customer interactions would be a valuable repository, which a company could use to enhance customer experiences. Customer data provides insights into customer behaviour, their interests and other such information. Using this information, companies would be able to create customized products and services thereby enhancing the value customers derive from these offerings. This enhanced value leads to repeat business from existing customers, attracts potential customers and overall increases the revenue and profit of the company. Research has revealed that companies that focus on customers are at least 60% more profitable as compared to companies that have not bothered with a customer-centric strategy.

The rise of new companies and advances in technology has ensured that the power to choose now lies with the customers. Customers are now more selective and prudent and collect all the information they require before making a buying decision. Companies that have a customer-centric strategy would have a better chance of being the ‘chosen ones’ since they would display respect, empathy and care towards customers and would have a genuine understanding of the customer’s needs – both current and in the future.  They would have invested time and effort in building robust relationships with customers that would stand the test of time. This shift of power and the control that social media has now given to customers, has posed huge challenges for companies without the customer focus.

Without such focus, companies do not find themselves equipped to share customer information throughout the organization leading to silos and incomplete data sharing. Such companies would need to start at the very beginning – focusing first, on what customers want and then by creating a customer-centric strategy that would ensure that everything the company does would be what customers seek. Do you believe that your company has a customer-centric strategy? If not, what steps would you put in place to ensure focus on customers?

A customer-centric strategy will encourage your company to delight the customers by anticipating their needs and bringing forth products and services that they never thought possible, but through the use of which, their lives would become easier. Such a strategy would enable a company to think of innovative ways to reduce customer pain and design offerings that would take them closer to achieving their goals. Putting in place a well-thought out customer-centric strategy would make a company more committed and passionate about its customers. Such a company would truly believe that they would succeed only when they focus on the customer’s success and each person within the company would share this customer-centricity. A customer-centric strategy enables a company to put time and effort into building relationships with their customers – relationships that extend beyond just the scope of the business. Such a company would focusing on making and keeping the customer profitable, leading to loyalty, profitability and brand advocacy on the part of the customer. While a customer-centric strategy may seem like a win only for customers, the fact is that the company stands to benefit just as much.

It is not hard to know what a customer-centric company looks like. The customer-centric strategy would ensure that the representatives of the company – at any level – would always be available and accessible to its customers. The company would make it possible for customers to connect with them whenever the customers deem appropriate – from wherever and whenever they want. The company’s website and social media content would be regularly updated, contact information would be accurate and around the clock customer service would be made available and other such methods that would provide flexibility and ease of connecting to customers. Such service would lead customers to know that they can trust and depend on the company and would not need to look elsewhere to get service or the products of their choice.

Being accessible is great but must be complemented by speedy responses for customers to find value. There would be no use of multi-channel accessibility if customers would need to wait a long time to receive responses and solutions. Speedy, consistent and effective responses are among the top priorities for customers and companies that fail to comply would find themselves losing.  Coupled with speed, customers also expect to be shown respect and empathy. Responding without really displaying an understanding or care for the customer’s problem is a sure way of alienating customers. A management truism states that customers must be treated like friends and companies that manage to do this each time, will gain loyal customers that will also be profitable and willing to attract more business.

A customer-centric strategy will ensure that a company remains united internally. Each department would be willing to contribute towards providing accurate and prompt data to customers as and when required. Internal communication and collaboration in such a company is top priority such that everyone within the organization remains connected and aligned to the same goals. A unified workforce is happier and more energized and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the company succeed. With unity comes agility and flexibility – which means that the company would be adept and prepared to adapt to the changing needs of the customer and the market. Even if the solutions were not readily available, the company would ensure that their customers get what they want in the least amount of time and with the least amount of inconvenience to them.

Ensuring that a company has a robust and effective customer-centric strategy is an arduous process but its benefits are highly visible and sustainable. It first requires a change in mind-set and a company can start by implementing even small changes to its overall processes and policies. With time, significant changes can be implemented and soon a company would begin to reap the benefits of its customer-centric strategy. Customer-centricity unlocks the true potential of a company’s ability to provide enhanced value to customers – keeping a company ahead of its competitors for a very long time.  




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