Shifting From Company-centric: How to Become a Customer-centric Brand Consumer Insights

By Kit Smith on August 4th 2016

Being a customer-centric company is not simply putting the customer first. It means putting their needs at the forefront of everything you do. Listen, understand, act, repeat.

It’s natural to be company-centric rather than customer-centric. People often operate from a mindset of what is good for the company without fully thinking of the impact to the customer.

Brands think they know what the customer wants without actually troubling to fully find out. People worry about the internal changes, processes and costs that are needed to make transitions.

But in the age of the empowered customer, the short-term pains of making this transition are worth the long term gains.


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Understand and listen to your customers

Asking for feedback is a tried and tested way of improving the customer experience. These days there are so many information streams available that you can build up more robust picture of your customers than ever. The more rounded the picture the better. You want to know your customers even when they aren’t being customers.

You cannot achieve customer-centricity without understanding the needs, frustrations and interests of the customer.

Listening to your customers is key to being customer-centric

How do you do this? With as many sources of customer information as you can. 

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Customer advisory board
  • Sales and CRM data
  • Web data
  • Customer loyalty data
  • Reviews and feedback
  • Employee anecdotes
  • Social data

You can even go beyond just looking at your customers, and analyze data from outside your brand to identify behavior patterns and market trends.

Building a rounded picture of the different segments of your customers is the first step to tailoring everything towards them.

Make every touchpoint customer-centric

A brand that isn’t customer-centric will try its best to make the customer experience a pleasant one. A brand that is customer-centric will go further than this, and deliver a unique and memorable experience.

The modern consumer is self-empowered and has access to more information than ever before. The way to stand out from all the competitors they are researching is to ensure they hear great things from every touch point.

The end-to-end customer journey has to be brilliant. Most customers’ experience will be a mixture of digital and offline. It will involve multiple touchpoints, potentially over some time. And you can’t let them down anywhere.

customer-centric brands listen to their customers

Content

Self-empowered consumers find their own content and don’t like being dictated to. You need to craft content that is relevant, interesting and adds value. We’ve written a free guide on how to use social data to discover trending content and research topics your audience are talking about.

You first need to get to know your audience and the content they are already engaging with. By understanding them, you can offer content of value, and help lead the conversation rather than follow.

Content should be crafted that fits different stages of the buyer journey, to different buyer personas, and on different channels.

Product

I was cleaning my flat the other day with my newly purchased vacuum cleaner. As soon as I started using it I was struck by how well designed the thing is. For nearly 100 years, the design of these household objects hardly changed.

My new vacuum cleaner is cordless, bagless, lightweight, has a 0º turning circle, with a torch on the front and a snazzy boost button. I didn’t even realise I needed half of those things. It felt so customer-centric in its development, the brand had dealt with every annoyance I could think of, and some that I couldn’t.

Use the feedback you have collected. Use social intelligence to gather natural conversations around your product. Find out the changes people actually want, not the ones you think they need.

Personalization

Take the hassle out of the experience. Make them feel like they aren’t just another number. Think about buying from Amazon: everybody sees a different homepage based on their previous purchases and other people’s purchase habits. While this might make it more likely that Amazon makes a sale, it also makes finding products the customer might like easier.

Personalized shoes

Customer service

It’s one of the most obvious customer facing roles, and one the first functions you can make customer-centric. Ideally, you want a single customer view so that you know customers’ information on whichever channel they chose to contact you on, but you don’t have to reach this holy grail to start becoming more customer-centric.

At the very least you need to respond in a timely manner, on whichever platform the customer chooses. Yet surprisingly few brands do this, with users waiting hours or being told to call or email.

With social intelligence, you can reach out to consumers in need, who are asking relevant questions on social in your product category, but not necessarily directing their questions at you.

Onboarding and aftercare

This is product dependent, but I’ve used services where the interactions seem to cease after-sales. If I struggle with the usability of the product, I don’t use it much, and then I churn.

If the company had a better onboarding process in place I’d get more out of the product, and end up being a customer for longer. Don’t consider your job done once you’ve got their dollars. It’s in both of your interest to keep the conversation going and ensure customers are getting the maximum value from the product or service.

Delivery

You spend time and effort on every other part of your customer touchpoints and then entrust the delivery to a third party who ruin the experience by delivering the package late. To the customer’s neighbour. Damaged.

Stairway spiral

Community

Building an active community means you are part of the conversation around your brand. In addition, by connecting customers you can foster an ecosystem where customers assist each other: sharing, learning, recommending, and engaging.

Influencers and advocates

Delighting customers at every turn and fostering an active community leads to the natural creation of advocates. Working with influencers is a different strategy that has a similar effect.

By identifying the right individuals and ensuring the relationship is mutually beneficial, you can increase organic reach and credibility. You can learn more in our free influencer marketing guide.

This is good for you and your sales of course, as word of mouth recommendations are more highly trusted than brand messaging. From a customer point of view, these are valuable reviews, another data source to research and a different viewpoint to consider.

Customer-centric organizations will gain influencers

Take a proactive approach to problems. With all this knowledge of your customers, and every department and customer touch point putting the customer first, you should be able to spot issues before they arise.

It may take time, effort and money to change the entire mindset of your brand, but it will be worth it once you get there. Your customers will thank you, as will your shareholders.


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Kit Smith

@Kit_Smith

Kit is a writer and marketing expert. When he's not researching ways to make you better at said marketing, he's often lost in foreign countries, or making pottery (or both).