How to build a customer-centric culture in your organisation
Make no mistake – customers are the lifeblood of your business. You may have the best product in the world, but unless ever larger numbers of consumers buy your product, your business won’t thrive. Building a customer-centric culture in your business is not only a good thing to do from a human perspective, but it is also one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make.
What is a customer-centric culture?
It sounds simple and in principle it is simple – you put your customers first. Your customer is at the core of your business and you design your business strategies and procedures around them. Your aim is to give your customers such a positive experience dealing with you that they are motivated to keep coming back. You establish a positive and long-term relationship with them to your mutual benefit. Strategies are designed to project and establish this image outward and staff are empowered promote this ethos.
What are the benefits of building a customer-centric culture in your business?
The benefits of a customer-centric culture can be summed up as follows:
- Sales will improve as happy customers come back and give you more business.
- Having streamlined customer-centric processes in place to ease the way for customers will decrease your costs.
- Efficient processes and services that keep customers happy will also improve overall operational efficiency.
- Adapting your services to cater to your customers’ changing needs will make them see you as a valued partner and promote their loyalty to you and your brand.
- Properly empowered, trained, and motivated staff will deliver better service. Your customers will be happier, and your customer service agents will have fewer irate customers to deal. It is a win-win situation all round.
How to build a customer-centric culture:
Despite ever-increasing volumes of data indicating that a customer-centric approach is vital to success, many businesses still struggle with the concept. The main hurdle seems to be to move beyond the more traditional sales- or product-driven corporate orientation, and establish a culture in which the ethos of customer centricity can flourish.
The only way to establish this mindset is from the top down. The leaders of the company need to be committed to customer centricity and then actively promote those values throughout the business.
Here are some guidelines as to how you can go about it:
Make ‘empathy’ the buzzword for all interaction with clients
This means not just identifying and validating a customer’s need, but then being able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and seeing the problem from their perspective. Understand the reasons behind the need, get all the relevant information about the problem – and then respond effectively and efficiently.
However, if you wish to entrench empathy as a touchstone of your customer-centric culture, you will have to do much more than just pay it lip-service. You will have to ‘operationalise’ it and make it an integral part of all policies, procedures, training, and systems.
It is especially crucial that your customer support or live chat agents are trained accordingly. Encourage them to immerse themselves in understanding customer needs and motivations by reading and analysing customer messages. Set up listening stations where employees can listen to customer conversations in order to hone their insights and gain experience. Remember that technologies like live chat can also be used to collect and analyse customer data and insights.
Hire staff members who show aptitude for dealing with customers
When interviewing prospective employees, make it clear that your company values customer-centric values and principles. Assess every prospective employee against this background by asking questions that will reveal how the candidate views dealing with customers and how he or she will respond to hypothetical interactions with customers. Not every person has the self-control, insight, patience, and positive disposition to make a successful and effective front-line employee.
Make customer feedback the touchstone of your business
You can’t satisfy your customers’ wants and needs if you don’t know what they are, so you must look at any customer feedback with an eagle eye. Any interaction with a customer must be seen as a golden opportunity to learn something valuable towards improving customer service or eliminating bottlenecks that cause frustration and delay for customers.
Is your website truly user friendly, or are there ambiguous elements that confuse or frustrate customers?
Is there a specific procedure or process that often features in customer complaints, suggesting it should be streamlined or replaced with something more efficient?
Remember, your customer care agents are your workers at the coal-face. Make accessing their insights and feedback an integral part of establishing and building out your customer-centric culture.
Make direct interaction with customers easy and streamlined
Most of your employees will have at least some interaction with customers. It is crucial that your customer-centric values and principles filter through and motivate every employee in your business.
Depending on what business you run, there will obviously be greater or fewer opportunities for your staff to interact with customers, but every interaction should be seen as an opportunity to learn more about the customer, their needs, and motivations.
Aim for three things here:
- Really try to get to know your customer. Customers need effective interactions that satisfy their particular needs, wants, and priorities. You need have an accurate and thoroughly up-to-date database of customer interactions, history and records for your employees to draw on to enable your staff to deliver tailor-made service to every customer.
- Streamline self-service. Many of today’s tech-savvy customers prefer a self-service option to direct interaction. However, that self-service support portal has to function seamlessly with very clear channels to information, options and contact details. Also include a troubleshooting page with FAQ section which can often solve a customer’s question right there.
- Be flexible and offer diverse options. You need to cater to the diverse options technology has brought along as regards payment and other options like subscriptions. Your customers need to have access to a smooth and painless buying experience, or any other online interaction they may have with your company.
Make sure your employees are invested in your customer-centric culture
You can do this by tying some compensation to an employee’s interaction with a customer. This could take the form of a cash incentive plan that gives tangible form to the employee’s contribution towards creating an excellent experience for the customer. The added benefit of an initiative like this is that it strengthens the customer-centric ethos because every employee feels that they are working towards the same goal – the establishment of a culture that puts the client first and where excellent service to the customer is the watchword.
- The customer is the lifeblood of your business, so a customer-centric approach needs to lie at the heart of all your policies, strategies, and customer service.
- Making your customers feel valued and appreciated will keep them coming back – and telling their friends and family about you.
- Instilling your employees with this business ethic is key to establishing a customer-centric culture. They must also be empowered and motivated to carry it out effectively.