No matter what type of product you sell, you instinctively know that listening to your customers is generally a good thing. It brings about many benefits: improved customer experience, higher revenue, and a better quality of your product - these are just some of the many things you can expect.
It’s all fine and dandy in theory, but in practice, many companies fail to adopt a customer-first approach. In the rush to get new business, decrease costs, develop new features and in general, run a business, we tend to forget about our customers in the process.
So, what does customer centricity even mean and how do you become more customer-centric? Let’s find out.
What does it mean to be customer-centric?
There are many different definitions of customer-centricity but it all boils down to one thing: putting the customer first when making all of your decisions.
Primarily, you need to understand the customers' needs and desires and especially their motivations to use your product. This requires extensive research into your customers’ profiles and can take months of interviews, surveys, and other tactics. Once you have this information, you need to apply it to your product development to build the kind of products customers want to use.
Second and equally important, customer centricity means designing a customer-friendly experience. From the moment they become interested in your product, to the moment they sign up and become a customer (and stay as one), everything should be designed to make their experience quick and pleasant.
In short, this approach means thinking of the customers first before making any crucial decisions about your business. One great example is Amazon, a company that has been focused solely on the customer for more than two decades now.
From next-day shipping to the lowest prices possible and the most personalized suggestions out there, Amazon puts you in the limelight at every visit.
So how can you do the same?
The benefits of being customer-centric
The importance of customer-centricity sounds like common sense to everyone, whether you run a business or not. However, there are some practical reasons that are backed by research that you should know of.
It brings more revenue. According to research, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for an improved customer experience.
You stay competitive. As markets get saturated and many companies offer the same or similar features, more than two-thirds of companies compete just based on customer experience.
You provide a more personalized experience. As Salesforce states, 66% of customers expect businesses to understand their unique needs.
The specific benefits of customer-centricity will depend on your product and your audience, but there are inevitably some benefits that any business will experience.
How to Create a Customer-Centric Strategy For Your Business
Each company will have a different strategy for defining and implementing customer-centricity. However, there are 5 steps that you need to go through as a starting point.
Step 1: Define What Customer Centricity Means
For every company, being customer-centric could mean something else.
You could focus on improving your customer support, creating a better onboarding experience, paying more attention to feature requests, improving your first response time, or something else.
Once you define what your main goals are and which metrics you want to use to track them, you’ll have a baseline to go off. Instead of having a vague goal of “being more customer-centric”, focus on specific methods and KPIs that you can easily track.
Step 2: Understand the Importance of Customer Centricity
Consider what the changes you make in your approach to customers could bring to your business. For example, if you improve your onboarding process, you can pretty accurately predict (using various tools) just how many more customers you’ll be able to retain each month.
Calling this a step doesn’t give this idea enough weight. However, you need to realize the importance of customer-centricity before going further.
Without customers, there is no business. Focusing on the customer means working on improving loyalty, increasing retention and building a product that people love and want to use.
This understanding of how important the customer is needs to go beyond the company leadership and become a core value for all of your teams, whether they are customer-facing or not.
Some ways to achieve this include asking potential hires about their views on customer orientation during the hiring process, as the team at Hootsuite does. Another example is Adobe, who set up a department where any employee can go and listen to customer calls, to democratize access to customer feedback.
Step 3: Implement Changes to Become Customer-Centric
Once you know what you want to achieve, you need to create a plan of how you want to achieve that goal and hit those KPIs.
For example, if your main goal is to respond to all of your customers’ feature requests, the first course of action would be to find a tool such as FeedBear that allows you to easily respond to and act on customer feedback.
The most important aspect of implementation is creating and documenting a plan. It’s a good way to keep yourself accountable and your entire team on the same page.
Examples of changes your organization could take:
- Collecting customer feedback
- Sending customer surveys
- Test new product features with users
- Make leadership accessible to customers
- Create opportunities to meet with customers
- Create tools and resources to help customers
- Use tools to improve customer service e.g. chatbots
- Go beyond your product to serve your customer’s needs e.g. create courses, certifications, customer communities
- Analyze your customer journey and improve onboarding
- Change policies affecting customers' experience e.g. refunds, trials, cancellations
So, what happens when you decide to become customer-centric instead of product-centric?
Goals: instead of being focused on increasing revenue, you start giving more attention to customer experience.
Strategy: Instead of putting a focus on getting new customers, you turn more towards retaining your existing ones and providing them more value.
Investment: You’ll put more money into customer support and customer success than product development.
Step 4: Train Employees to be Customer-Centric
Once you know what your goals are, you need to train your employees to be able to reach them. For example, if your main aim is to reduce your time to first response, provide them with the resources to be able to answer customer support requests more quickly. It’s important to provide not just the tools, but also the training to achieve your KPIs.
Step 5: Measure Results and Continuously Improve
As we’ll explain in a minute, there are various tools and methods for becoming more customer-centric. They all have one thing in common - they are quantifiable and measurable. And what gets measured can get improved.
For example, your NPS score is a good benchmark of how your customers feel about you. Once you have an NPS score to go off, you can track it across time and measure your improvements.
NPS score benchmarks by Retently
Tools to help with becoming more Customer-Centric
There are now many tools that help you turn customer-centricity from a notion into something that you practice every day. These are some suggestions for the best tools that you can try out - just to guide you in the right direction.
Idea boards like FeedBear
Idea board tools let your customers suggest ideas for improving your product. Be it new feature suggestions, bug fixes, integration suggestions or something else, they give customers room to voice their opinions.
Idea boards are public and in FeedBear, everyone can see what other customers suggest and how they voted. It’s a great way to give autonomy to your customers and let them engage in discussions not only with other customers but also with your team members.
A roadmap is a logical extension of an idea board. With a roadmap, you give an outline of what you will deliver with your product in the upcoming months. It’s your promise to the customer about the future of your product and a sign of things to come.
Roadmaps tell customers that you’re actively working on their feedback and putting ideas into action. They’re also a superb way to show potential customers what they can expect a few months down the line. Besides idea boards, you can also create great roadmaps in FeedBear as well.
One of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers is to run surveys and simply ask them how they feel about your product and offer. There is no shortage of great tools for surveys out there, but we’d suggest Survicate as a good option that looks great and offers lots of functionalities.
An example of a survey question from Survicate
More important than the tool is how and when you do surveys. Ideally, you’ll want to run them at least several times per year to get relevant results while at the same time not overloading your customers.
Net Promoter Score is a simple metric that shows how willing your customers are to recommend your product to their friends and people they know. And while it is seemingly simple, knowing when and how to run NPS surveys makes all the difference.
When you have your first NPS score (measured from -100 to +100), you’ll have a good basis for comparison in the future. While it isn’t the end-all metric for customer success, it’s a good way to measure how many customers are ecstatic to use your product.
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Unlike an NPS survey, a CSAT survey asks the customers to rate a specific aspect of your offer. For example, your onboarding, customer support, integrations, features, pricing, you name it.
CSAT Survey by Delighted
This is an excellent way to gauge how your customers feel about something new you launched or something that is causing friction in your customer journey.
Site widgets for micro-surveys
Running standard, CSAT, and NPS surveys is time-consuming both for your team and your customers. Having to fill out either of those takes time from your customers’ day and you don’t want them to do these surveys too often. They’ll get overloaded and either stop doing them or give irrelevant answers.
Instead, use site widgets for micro-surveys to ask super quick and relevant questions. Hotjar does a pretty good job at this and you can use it to ask questions which are related to the page where the visitor is at the moment.
Being more customer-centric is no longer something that is nice to have. In an age where staying competitive with features is becoming virtually impossible, you can go the extra mile and fight your way for customers’ attention and hard-earned money. And while it may take some extra time to set things up in the beginning, becoming customer-centric will make a world of difference for your company - not just your customers.
Don’t know where to start? How about trying Feedbear - the all-in-one customer feedback tool your team will love using. Sign up for a free trial today!