Most marketers in 2019 pride themselves on being customer-centric, believing they offer some indispensable value to customers. The reality is more complicated: according to one Capgemini study, 75% of organizations think they’re customer-centric while only 30% of consumers agree. Even if you overcome the common barriers to customer-centric growth, your efforts mean little if that value isn’t communicated to others.
A truly customer-centric business isn’t a place for rote transactions. Instead, it facilitates a more in-depth relationship where consumers feel engaged and motivated to return to you instead of moving on to the competition. Such loyalty requires customers to see the value in each touchpoint they maintain with your brand. What does this look like?
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Avoid These Barriers to Customer-Centric Growth
Cultivate a customer-centric business structure
Organizational structures contribute profound value to consumers. Any brand operating in 2020 will interact with customers across a variety of channels, from marketing and sales teams to customer support. To cultivate customer-centricity, each department must contribute to the customer experience and coordinate with other departments to ensure a consistent relationship.
Let’s say a company produces washing machines and refrigerators under separate business units. Organizationally, this means each vertical has its own marketing and customer relationship management team. The downside to this structure is that each unit may end up unintentionally competing for the same customers by placing the product over the brand. All groups should work together so that customers see the value in all products. For example, if they are satisfied with the experience of buying a washing machine, you might be able to upsell a new refrigerator as well.
That’s not to say this example company should necessarily merge their washing machine and refrigerator units. Depending on the brand’s size, marketing them as independent verticals may be the most efficient solution. The key is that a customer-centric organization should cultivate a holistic view of the customer instead of segmenting and siloing each perspective. This is why managing customer relationships through CRM tools and unified marketing teams can provide leverage when communicating a brand’s value.
Emphasize Customer-Centric Data Management
A business cannot serve its customers without knowing who they are. Managing any customer relationship requires companies to fully understand their touchpoints with the brand and where they are in the customer journey. Even a simple list of past transactions can greatly benefit a growing startup.
Representing each of these elements in a customer-centric way requires active data tracking, a significant barrier for many brands. According to a joint survey from Blueshift and TechValidate, approximately 54% of marketers claim their business has insufficient ability to analyze customer data. Thankfully, there are various steps and strategies brands can follow to remedy poor data management:
- Implementing good data practices, such as broad access to data across departments
- Adopting the right customer data platform to promote effective data management
- Crowdsourcing your data insight process by allowing employees to share ideas
- Giving customers input into the management of their data
It’s worth remembering that in 2019, a customer-centric business is also a data-centric one by necessity. Adopting a proactive approach to data management is a promising way to manage and engage with customers at all points of the buyer’s journey.
Prioritize Customer Service & Support
Budgeters may argue that customer service is the best place to cut expenses, but savvy professionals know that service teams are at the heart of each customer interaction. There are solid arguments that customer service is nothing short of a marketing investment. In 2018, the Temkin Group found that modest improvements to customer experience increased the revenue of a typical $1 billion company by $775 million in just over three years. Software companies saw even higher gains to nearly $1 billion.
Improving customer service may only be tangentially related to a core product, but it remains an essential investment to a brand’s long-term prospects. Such improvements might include:
- Ensuring support teams are fully staffed, supported, and given sufficient tools to complete their tasks
- Giving team members enough time to respond to customers rather than sending automated responses
- Providing room for service representatives to solicit feedback or offer support before customers express dissatisfaction
These customer-centric principles are not limited to your customer service department. The most successful brands realize that service strategies can be applied throughout entire companies, allowing each interaction to be a positive one. This consistency can maximize trust and help customers expect the same quality standards from other verticals across your brand.
Implementing these customer-centric principles can be a challenging investment at first, especially if it requires reorganizing your business structure. The good news is that not only will your brand see long and short-term benefits in this transition, but your customers will benefit as well.