The biggest barrier to customer-centricity, or in other words client-centricity, is the lack of a culture that focuses on customers.
Look around you, and you’ll find that some of the most successful companies (Amazon, Zappos, Hilton) are customer-centric.
In one of our previous articles, we talked about “How to create a customer-centric experience” and we mentioned that in order to create a customer-centric experience you need to change the company culture.
And yes, it is undeniable that a company culture does not change overnight and it takes hard work and dedication to do so, but it is possible to achieve.
Creating a customer-centric culture is one of the best decisions you can make as an entrepreneur or business owner, so in this article, I will share with you how to create a customer-centric culture for your business.
What is a customer-centric culture?
In a customer-centric organization, everyone shares the goal of creating a great customer experience. From top to bottom, a company’s management and employees are dedicated to this mission.
Each person understands that their customers are the most important aspect of their work and that they have personal responsibility and an important role to play in ensuring that their customers have the best possible experience.
The XM Institute defines culture as having three parts:
Employees understand the company’s vision and why it matters. It’s developed through the organization’s communication, and the messages it gives through its values, routines, and structures.
In order to be successful, employees adjust their behavior according to the company’s priorities. That includes how they act when no one is watching.
Employees learn from the example that their leaders genuinely believe in and live the company’s values.
How to create a customer-centric culture?
1- Make Customer Centricity Part Of Your Company Philosophy, Values, And Mission Statement
Customer centricity needs to be a part of your company philosophy, values, and mission statement.
A business with a customer-focused philosophy will have more success because customers can identify themselves with the products or services. When you’re on the receiving end, being treated like a person and not just an anonymous source of income means everything.
A customer-focused philosophy is a way for a business to stay true to its values and put themselves in the shoes of their customers. It also gives people something they can identify with, which helps them better understand the company’s mission.
Your company mission should represent your customer-centric culture while at the same time being clear, straightforward, and simple to understand.
Here are some mission statements that reinforce customer centricity:
Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
Twitter: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
Adobe: “To move the web forward and give web designers and developers the best tools and services in the world.”
Sony: “To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity.”
2- Gather customer feedback
It is impossible to provide the best customer experience without hearing from your clients, and it is equally difficult to improve your brand if you don’t know where you stand with them.
For this reason, it is important for companies to invest time in gathering feedback on a regular basis so that their staff can make changes accordingly.
When you know what your customer expects from you, anticipating the need becomes an easy task.
Gathering feedback from existing customers should be done regularly and well – without it, your team may not understand what they are missing, and what changes need to happen. Feedback will help you understand what should stay the same as well as what needs improvement.
A lot of brands today talk about collecting feedback, but how many actually take it seriously and act on the customer feedback?
Customers want to be heard. But don’t expect the customers to spontaneously provide feedback—by some measures, “only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. The rest churn.”
What’s the best way to gather feedback? Ask your customers directly.
Make your questions easy to answer, and take into account any info you might already have at your disposal.
Here are some popular methods for collecting feedback:
Social media—Read, respond, and take note of the responses you get on social media. This can be one of the first indicators of a major problem or an area of improvement.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)—NPS is primarily used to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction with a single question while they’re using your product.
Customer experience surveys—Whether you use a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey or a Customer Effort Score (CES), gathering information immediately after an interaction is the key.
In-app questionnaires—Reach your customers while they’re using your product. One quick question here or there, while the customers are already engaged, is an excellent way to gather contextual feedback.
Message boards—Many product-focused companies have the message boards specifically aimed at feedback. Customers can ask about the issues they’re experiencing or the enhancements they’d like to see made.
Here’s one thing to keep in mind: If you gather feedback from your customers but don’t take action, then all the time and energy that you’ve spent gathering the feedback is wasted. So do something with the information you get!
3- Pay attention to culture fit when hiring
Leaders and business owners typically hire for hard skills and experience. If you have an open position for a marketing manager, for example, you’ll likely look for someone who is familiar with your company’s CRM tool and has prior experience running marketing campaigns.
If you want to build a customer-centric culture that goes beyond the basics, such as providing excellent service and top-notch products, then looking out for soft skills is equally important.
These include the ability to communicate well with your team, provide input on projects, show initiative when necessary, and other attributes that enable a candidate to interact effectively with your team.
At the end of the day, there are some things that you can’t teach a new hire. You can always teach them how to use your CRM system, but it’s not so easy to get them to improve their interpersonal skills or change certain aspects of their personality. Keep that in mind!
4- Spread a customer-centric culture across departments
The most successful brands have made their customers the centerpiece of their company culture. A customer-centric culture ensures that all employees from every department work together to provide customers with an excellent experience.
It’s important to remember that passion is the bread and butter of any good customer-centric company.
The first thing to know is that passion fuels customer-centric companies. When you instill a sense of excitement and passion around customer service into every aspect of what you do, your employees will carry that with them into their day-to-day.
The customer service team, the marketing team, and the engineering team all have to take care of a customer in order to keep them satisfied.
If one person doesn’t do their job correctly, it can create issues that are detrimental to other departments in the company!
Secondly, put the needs of your customer ahead of everything else. That doesn’t mean you have to adopt a “customer is always right” mentality, but anticipate their needs and develop the products that will solve their problems.
Last but not least, you should focus on building lasting relationships with your customers. That means engaging with them wherever they are on social media and following up with them consistently. You should reward their loyalty by giving back to the community that supports you.
When a company makes their customers the focus of everything they do, from product development to marketing strategies, it sets them apart from the competition. Developing a customer communication strategy is just one way that can help you reach your goal of providing an exceptional experience for all of your customers.
In a world that likes to share everything, good and bad, it’s more important than ever for brands to get in touch with their customers. The best way to do this is to understand them at a deep level.
Building a customer-centric culture can be done in lots of different ways.
What we found works best is when every single person from the CEO to the frontline employee buys on our belief that customers deserve to always come first.
The result? A happier workforce who feels like they’re doing something worthwhile with their lives and an increased number of satisfied clients, which leads to more business opportunities for you.
Developing a customer-centric culture is not as simple as ticking off boxes on a checklist. It’s about transforming the way you interact with customers, and it starts from within. Having an employee team that cares about making the customer experience better and is excited to make changes makes all of this possible.