4 Steps to a More Customer-Centric Business

by Sam Salerno
 • October 26, 2021
 • 7 min to read

A positive customer experience can be your greatest differentiator in today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected marketplace.

Strong, customer-centric experiences significantly impact customer satisfaction and the chances of consumers purchasing from a business again. In fact, studies show that 86% of consumers are prepared to pay a higher price for a great customer experience, while 32% are willing to walk away after a single bad experience. Plus, when you provide a customer with an excellent experience, they’re more likely to tell their friends—netting you more business and higher revenues.

In order to build positive customer experiences, however, you need to be more customer-centric. In other words, you need to place the customer—their needs, wants, perceptions, and expectations—at the center of everything your business does, from product development and marketing to delivery and customer satisfaction. These four steps will help your business build a firm, customer-centric foundation that will last you long into the future.

1. Adopt a customer-centric mindset.

Most businesses have a sales-centric mindset, one that looks at meeting sales quotas, boosting profit, and increasing market share at every opportunity.

Don’t get us wrong—that’s not a bad thing! Businesses need to stay profitable if they want to stay afloat. But a customer-centric mindset takes the focus off of “profit-at-any-cost” and places it on the customer.

And when businesses shift their focus from generating profit to putting customers first, they’ll find their profits actually increase rather than decrease. Not only is it easier and more affordable to retain customers, but a study by Bain & Company found that just a five percent increase in customer retention can boost a company’s profit by over 25%.

Netflix is a prime example of how adopting a customer-centric mindset can bring a business back from the brink of collapse. In 2011, Netflix announced a price increase and a confusing change to their subscription offerings. The results: They lost 800,000 subscribers, their stock price plummeted, and they were nearly bought out by Blockbuster. Netflix quickly shifted to a customer-centric mindset to remedy the situation. They reversed the price changes, sent out customer surveys to better understand their customers, and, after two years of damage control and image management, re-emerged with more subscribers and higher profits.

While you can’t shift from a sales-centric to a customer-centric mindset overnight, the first steps begin with taking a deep look at how your business operates and relates to customers.

Start by asking these two questions:

  1. “How can I better serve and over-deliver for my customers?”
  2. “How will this decision ultimately impact my customers?”

As a business leader, place these questions at the forefront of your mind to naturally steer your business in a more customer-centric direction.

2. Share customer data between departments.

To truly build a customer-centric business, customer data—such as demographics, purchasing behaviors, interactions with your business, etc.—needs to be easily accessible and regularly reviewed by each of your business departments.

Unfortunately, most businesses fail to do this. One survey by the Harvard Business Review found that organizational silos, disconnected systems, and hoarded customer data present the greatest barriers to improving the customer experience.

It’s impossible to put the needs of your customer first when you don’t know who they are or what they want. When each department is more in tune with who they are ultimately serving, they can make better, more customer-focused decisions.

With customer data:

  • Marketing teams can create stronger, more targeted marketing materials that attract ideal customers and clients.
  • Sales teams can better understand where customers are coming from and how to best handle common customer sales objections.
  • Customer experience teams can use customer data to hyper-personalize customer interactions to make them even more effective in terms of lead generation and conversions.
  • Executive teams can make more informed business decisions, such as improving product offerings or shifting business priorities.

Nationwide, an insurance and financial services company, uses internal customer data to create stronger sales funnels. Looking at customer data, product teams determine which market segments are the best fit for specific insurance plans. Marketing teams can then look at the same data to determine which marketing material would present the strongest buy-in for their targeted customer.

Three ways to share customer data

Here are three ways businesses of all sizes can simplify sharing customer data between departments:

  1. Create a core set of customer personas. If you’re a small business and don’t have tons of customer data to draw from, consider creating detailed customer personas that represent your ideal customers. These personas can then be shared across your business so that everyone has a defined “ideal customer” in mind when making decisions.
  2. Unlock your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. If you use a CRM to keep track of your customers and their interactions with your business, consider giving each department access to the data you collect.
  3. Deploy a Customer Data Platform (CDP). CDPs are central hubs for all of your customer data. They track and collect customer information and can even trace each visitor as they interact with your business on different channels. These platforms can give each of your departments a real-time, single source of truth for who your customers are and their behaviors.

3. Put customers in control of how they communicate with your business.

To give your customers the most customer-centric experience, you need to let them interact with your business on a channel that they’re most comfortable with. For some, that means being able to engage with you or your customer service team on the phone. Others might prefer texting or web chat as their channel of choice. Regardless of which channel they choose, a survey by Accenture found that 51% of consumers are more likely to remain loyal to a brand or business that communicates with them via their preferred channel.

When it comes to contacting customer service, the traditional phone call stills reigns supreme. In fact, 42% of consumers say they would pick up the phone to resolve an issue before using digital channels (38%)—like social media, online chat, text, or web self-service—or email (20%).

Fortunately, Mindful makes it easy to give customers control over how they interact with your business. Customers can choose to call your business, text your customer service reps, or even use a digital scheduling widget on your website or app to schedule a callback at a time that works best for them—and for your agents. You’ll never have to worry about customers hanging up in frustration because of long wait times. Providing a callback solution lets them get back to their busy day—improving their customer satisfaction (CSAT) and freeing up your customer service team to provide even stronger support.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Connecticut Department of Labor experienced a 500% increase in cases and calls practically overnight. Their overwhelmed, 80-person team turned to Mindful to help tackle the initial 26,000 daily calls from people looking for unemployment assistance. With Mindful’s callback solution and text message notifications, they managed to eliminate 11,000 repeat calls and schedule the queue throughout the week—drastically reducing hold times, making sure callers were able to connect with agents, and saving their team from dramatic burnout.

Start putting customers in control of communication with Mindful today! It’s better for customers and brands.

4. Gather and act on customer feedback.

You need to understand how your customer feels about your business, products, or services if you’re going to deliver a positive customer experience. But unless you actively and tactfully ask for their feedback, you’ll have a hard time knowing what steps you can take to improve your customer’s experience.

You can acquire feedback using customer experience surveys to help you identify your customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and how likely they are to recommend your product or service (Net Promoter Score).

Fortunately, it’s never been easier for a business to collect customer feedback. Whether through formal surveys sent via email, automated IVR survey sequences following a call, or even text notifications with a survey link, you can quickly gauge how your business is performing and where it can improve. Plus, 77% of consumers say that simply asking for their feedback boosts their perception of your business.

USAA Bank has consistently held the top spot for Net Promoter Score (NPS) of any financial institution. The financial industry average for NPS is 18—USAA blows them all out of the water with an average NPS of 75.

How do they accomplish this? By listening to their clients and quickly resolving problems.

USAA offers the products and services their clients want, makes it easy to do business, quickly resolves customer problems (64% of clients say they were extremely satisfied with their problem resolution), and ties it all together with excellent customer service. But they wouldn’t have known how to do it unless they heard directly from their clients on how they could improve.

When you make it a priority to listen to your customers and act on their feedback, you naturally build a healthier business that your customers rave about.

Read more on collecting and acting on customer feedback.

Summing up

Building a customer-centric business is no small feat. It takes time, effort, and a strong desire to serve the customer first.

But the rewards are well worth it.

Businesses that focus on elevating their customer experience will naturally find higher customer retention. And the proof is in the pudding: customer-centric businesses have proven to be 60% more profitable than their competitors.

Learn from businesses that have implemented these four steps, implement them in your own business, and watch your business and customer satisfaction grow.

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