- The customer is firmly in the driving seat and with it comes a required change in how you build and nurture relationships with potential and existing customers.
- Companies that put the customer at the heart of their organization are experiencing an increase in customer lifetime value and a reduction in churn. How? By being customer-centric.
- Becoming a truly customer-centric organization takes time, but you can start of all small. We provide you with 4 best practices to becoming a customer-centric company and share 3 ways to measure success.
A customer-centric way of doing business is a way that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, enhance customer loyalty and improve business growth.
But, a customer-centric company is more than a company that offers good customer service.
Both Amazon and Zappos are prime examples of brands that are customer-centric and have spent years creating a culture around the customer and their needs. Their commitment in delivering customer value is genuine - In fact, Zappos is happy to fire employees if they do not fit within their customer-centric culture!
But, how important is being customer-centric?
The good news is that's becoming very important!
Econsultancy recently asked what the most important characteristic is in order to establish a truly "digital-native" culture.
The answer to that question and leading the responses with 58% was to be customer-centric.
Yet, according to CMO Council, only 14% of marketers believe that customer-centricity is a hallmark of their companies.
Here's the thing:
Executing a successful customer-centric strategy doesn't happen overnight.
You need to start somewhere, so let's start at the beginning - understanding the definition of what customer-centricity is.
What is customer-centric?
Customer-centric (also known as client-centric) is a business strategy that’s based on putting your customer first and at the core of your business in order to provide a positive experience and build long-term relationships.
When you put your customer at the core of your business, and combine it with Customer Relationship Management (CRM), you collect a wealth of data, which gives you a full 360 view of the customer. This can then be used to enhance the customer experience.
- You can use customer data to understand buying behavior, interests and engagement
- You can identify opportunities to create products and services for your best customers
- You can use customer lifetime value to segment customers based on top spending customers
Not only does focusing on the customer make sound business sense, but research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer.
"Client-centricity is the most important factor in a successful business digitalization, since client-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies not focused on the customer" - Deloitte, July 2017
The challenges of becoming a customer-centric organization
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.
The winning brands were the ones who treated their customers with respect, offered great service, and built a relationship with them that still exists today.
During the same period, another game-changer took place - social media. Social media marketing ( and social selling) exploded onto the scene and mobile became a major part of the customer journey. Customers can now compare products and services in real time and across multiple devices, which has presented a huge challenge for many brands.
Research has found that companies are struggling with this change and are unable to become a customer-centric organization – with the biggest challenge not being able to share customer information across departments.
Most companies do not have all of the components in place to claim they are customer-centric, but the most important part to remember is this:
You need to start with your customers, not your products and focus on what your customers want to do.
By designing your company from the customer’s perspective, your organization will be focused on the customer’s needs.
4 Best practices to becoming a customer-centric company
By being customer-centric, you will want to anticipate customers' needs and delight them with products and services they may not have thought of, but will immediately fall in love with (i.e. the Apple iPhone or iPad).
Thus, a customer-centric brand creates products, processes, policies and a culture that is designed to support customers with a great experience as they are working towards their goals.
The four best practices that stand out regarding customer-centricity are:
- Brands that are committed to customer-centricity are passionate, and truly believe the customer comes first. They believe that without the customer, they cannot succeed in business (which is true) and want to see the world through the customer’s eyes. Marketers inside customer-centric organizations understand what customers want and use customer data to capture customer insights and share this across the organization.
- Brands that are committed to customer-centricity focus on what the customer wants and needs and develop products and services around that.
- Brands that are committed to customer-centricity focus on building relationships designed to maximize the customer’s product and service experience.
- Brands that are committed to customer-centricity analyze, plan and implement a carefully formulated customer marketing strategies that focuses on creating and keeping profitable and loyal customers.
3 ways to measure the success of a customer-centric company
Not every organization will have the same customer metrics to measure customer-centricity. However, the three most important customer-centric metrics that should be carefully monitored are churn rate, Net Promoter Score and customer lifetime value (CLV).
1. Churn rate
Acquiring new customers is becoming more difficult. Therefore, more companies are investing in keeping existing customers instead of trying to find new ones. Here’s why:
- Acquiring new customers can cost up to 5x more than keeping existing customers
- A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by 10%
- On average, companies lose approx. 10% of its customer base each year (also known as customer churn)
Companies with a high retention rate grow faster.
The key to success is to understand why people leave, and why people remain customers.
To calculate the churn rate, measure the number of customers who left in the last 12 months divided by the average number of total customers (during the same period).
2. Net Promoter Score
Are your customers happy? How do you measure customer happiness?
The answer is through NPS.
NPS, or Net Promoter Score focuses on uncovering customer loyalty by asking only one, simple question:
Each time a customer responds to this question, the answer is then segmented based on predefined criteria:
- Promoters (9-10): These people are in love with your product or service and are likely to refer you to potential buyers. The customers who rate you a 9 or 10 are repeat customers and will have a high customer lifetime value.
- Passives (7-8): These people who rate you a 7 or 8 are content with being a customer of your business, but are the most likely to switch to a competitor should they find a new or better product.
- Detractors (0-6): These people are not happy with your product or service and are likely to damage your brand reputation by sharing their negative experience with their friends, family and connections.
The more Promoters you have, the healthier your business. Simple, really?
And the fact that it’s simple to implement and measure makes the NPS a favorite with company boards and executive committees.
3. Customer lifetime value (CLV)
For a customer-centric business, the most valuable "asset" is their customer base.
If you're investing in long-term relationships, you can calculate the "health" of the relationship with customer lifetime value or CLV.
CLV measures the amount of revenue a customer contributes to your business for as long as they are a paying customer. It starts with their first purchase and ends when they stop doing business with you.
To calculate CLV, add up the total revenue you have earned and multiply that with the length of the business relationship. Then, deduct the initial cost of acquiring them.
For example, if a customer spends $1,000 annually, and the average "lifetime" of a customer is 10 years, then you multiply $1,000 by 10 years ($10,000). Now, subtract the cost of acquisition (in this case, we'll estimate $1,000), and the CLV is $9,000.
Not bad, right?
Calculating CLV helps you understand why it makes sense to invest in keeping your customers.
But, rather than looking at CLV from purely from a revenue perspective, you should be looking at it from a value perspective - which is why I love Dennis Shiao's take on Customer lifetime value.
The shift towards becoming a truly customer-centric organization is both complex and long but, do not be put off by this as even the smallest changes to policy and processes can have a significant benefit for both employee and your customer.
Being a customer-centric organization is the Holy Grail towards unlocking the true potential of customer value. Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer and minimize customer effort and maximize customer value.
Do you consider yourself a customer-centric organization?