What does it mean to be customer centric?

October 26, 2018

At first glance, it sounds so obvious. To be a great business that’s capable of growing manageably and with a healthy bottom line, you have to be focused on the customer.

Because, let’s face it - it’s the customer is what matters, right?

Unfortunately, far too many business become the exact opposite of customer centric. And that’s usually through no deliberate action or desire to be anything but customer centric; it just… happens.

Your business may have already fallen into this trap, or might be on the verge of doing so. Either way, we’d suggest you keep reading in order to avoid an insurmountable problem.

From operational to customer-led

It isn’t uncommon for businesses to become far too operationally led. Processes, procedures and internal red tape can be all consuming and often do little more than get in the way of what really matters: the customer.

Our businesses need processes in order to remain productive and efficient. They require procedures to ensure everyone works coherently. Internal red tape - although at times more cumbersome than in needs to be - is essential to remain compliant with industry standards.

But what if you become far too invested in the internal stuff?

Here’s a few quick-fire tips for moving your business from being operational to customer-led.

1. Speak to your customers

Again - another business lesson 101? Not necessarily.

When was the last time you spoke to a customer that wasn’t as a result of them contacting you? Are you proactively reaching out and beating them to it?

Speaking to customers shouldn’t always be seen as a sales task. In fact, that’s absolutely not the way to go about it. Instead, schedule regular check-ins with customers simply to see how they are. Is the product working as intended? Are there any gaps in service that need addressing? How’s their business? What views do they have on the industry?

The more you speak to customers, the more focused you’ll be on delivering solutions and services that are of genuine benefit.

2. Review the customer journey

How do customers find you and buy your products or services?

By reviewing (regularly) the path taken by a customer, you’ll gain a direct insight into the journey required to become a client of your business. And you know what? You might be surprised; there could be roadblocks in place that you never knew existed or inefficiencies which make it a real pain.

You simply won’t discover these hidden elements of being a customer if you don’t put yourself in their shoes.

3. Empower your employees

Your employees are the beating heart of your company - the procedures they follow aren’t. This is why they need to be empowered to be leaders in their own right and become masters of the customer experience.

The more autonomy you can offer employees - combined with one-to-one support when needed - the more they’ll begin to work in a way that directly benefits the customer. They’ll appreciate the value of operational rules, but be inspired by the fact they’re not always set in stone.

Avoid tying your reward structures entirely to revenue - make it about the experience customers are provided with, and provide the biggest pats on the back to the employees who set examples in that area.

No silver bullet

The three tips above are longterm strategies - they won’t deliver over night results. For such change to take place, there needs to be a company-wide shift in attitude, the approach you take and even the overall philosophy of the business.

There’s no silver bullet for this - hard work and effort is what’s needed.

Within the four walls of your business a culture of “customer first” needs to develop if you’re to move from being operationally-led to customer centric. Unfortunately, that sometimes requires a change in personnel, but you can’t escape tough decisions if the business is struggling to grow or attract enough new customers.

How we did it

No company is perfect, and at Newedge, we know how challenging it can be to move from being operationally led to customer centric.

As a digital marketing agency, we’re acutely aware of the sheer volume of competition we have, and it became clear that in order to differentiate ourselves, we needed to demonstrate that the customer matters far more to us than any internal process or piece of red tape.

It wasn’t easy, and it required us to rethink the way we planned, designed and built websites and marketing campaigns. We had to ditch what we believe to be ‘the right way’ and, by listening to our customers, reviewing their journey and empowering our employees, we did it!