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To explore the customer-centric mindset we first need to understand three key points: mindset, habit and customer-centricity.
Mindset is “the established set of attitudes held by someone”. Whilst a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”. Customer centricity is where the end-user is the focus for every business decision.
Essentially, the customer is at the center of a business’ philosophy, operations, or ideas.
Businesses with a customer-centric culture believe their clients are the primary reason they exist, and use every possible means to keep their clients satisfied.
Customer-centricity can start with you
I’m not going to define a customer-centric organization and try to convince you that you need to be customer-centric. If you are reading this, I know you already know.
I’ll just remind you of one element: Today customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies that are not.
For years, the whole internet has been publishing excellent customer-centric theories, facts and figures about this mindset which ‘makes businesses successful’. It all starts from your customer journey.
But how customer-centric are you? Do you have a customer-centric mindset?
It’s important to understand that you don’t need a strong company customer-centric culture to start. Of course it makes the process easier if you have the support of your top management. But it can also start with you.
You can build small and powerful habits to gain reflexes which help your customers alongside having compelling products and services.
Five habits for customer-centric thinking
I’ve got five questions for you. We’ll answer them together and for each one you’ll discover a powerful habit that you can develop to firmly set your mind on the customer in your daily business. And – just like that – you’ll start to adopt a customer-centric mindset!
1. Did you use your product or services during the last two weeks?
It’s important to get in touch with the experience your customer will have.
I see some witty guys coming to challenge that statement… I once had a person confront me saying, “I don’t need to use baby diapers to sell them”.
Well, sure. You don’t need to experience them like babies do, but you don’t sell to babies… you sell to parents! What do they need when shopping for diapers? That is what should be your concern.
Moreover, experimenting with your customers’ experience will help you to map and understand the customer journey through all aspects of the customer experience.
According to the lifetime value of your product or services, set aside planning time to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Test and learn what you’re proposing to them. You will get a lot of ideas out of this recurrent experience.
2. Did you talk directly to your customers in the last two weeks?
Be honest. When was the last time you spoke directly to your customers?
If your answer is: “during the last yearly survey”, you can do better. Of course, yearly studies are important – you need to monitor the business from a lot of different angles.
But here, I’m talking about the contact with your customers. Usually, I observe this good habit more often in B2B companies. Sales, marketing and operations create contact with the customers for the sake of the partnership.
But in B2C, quite often marketers look at me very strangely when I propose they call 10 of their best clients; or even 10 random customers. It’s just some emails and phone calls – it’s easy to set up.
I guarantee you, even if you sell baby diapers on a national scale, parents will be very happy to give their feedback and talk about their overall experience with you or your competitor.
People love giving their opinions and love knowing you care about them. You’ll learn so much for a very limited budget. This is better than any Customer Experts’ brainstorming!
Just try it, and turn it into a monthly part of your agenda – at least.
We’ll see how to scale up this conversation habit once you are familiar with the practice. You can always contact me if you are there already!
3. Do you start your meeting with a story or new insights about your customers?
The purpose of your business, and especially your job, is to collaborate with your co-workers to deliver solutions which help your customers in an easy and friendly way.
You can call that selling because, indeed, you expect your prospect to take action and buy your products and/or services.
With both of these scenarios, the situation remains the same; You, your team, and other co-workers need to understand who they are selling to.
As you become an expert in your clients every day, thanks to powerful customer-centric habits, you have the responsibility to share this knowledge in order to gain efficiency as a team.
If everybody became a customer expert, the work and the projects surrounding your product and services would be boosted and you would align in an easier way.
When everybody looks in the same direction, it’s easier. Trust me.
So, as of now, start every one of your meetings with a fact or a story about your customers.
If this sounds hard, either you have too many meetings, or you don’t have enough contact with your customers.
There are plenty of effective ways to find insights. These include phone calls (see question number 2), surveys, sales force feedback, asking any digital co-workers that collect data – such as the digital marketing team who may have valuable customer feedback. There’s also another, additional option which brings us to the next question…
4. Who do you talk to the most – market researchers or call center/customer care managers?
I am often met with silence when I ask this question because people realize they may have a stronger relationship with the Care team.
Clearly market researchers or any business intelligence staff are more often invited to participate, or at least are invited sooner, than the Care team are during discussions.
Market research and business intelligence are important but it’s usually already good practice for managers to align regularly.
A strong habit to adopt is to strengthen relationships, and meet regularly, with the Care team. These guys are the face and/or the voice of your company, your brand. They are literally there to help your customers in a friendly way to simplify and improve the customer experience.
Working hand-in-hand with them will:
- Reform and/or enhance your product and services development, including your content framework. These guys always have a lot of ideas when it comes to improvements that can help the customer relationship.
- Help you to understand your customers and provide you with infinite silos of facts and stories to bring in your meetings. These may also help to inform your content strategy.
So don’t forget to invite them to your discussions at the beginning of any initiatives. Their perceptions are pure added value when it comes to customer centricity.
5. When it comes to innovation… did you already co-create with your customers?
This is the ultimate good habit! If you are already set with the four first habits – seriously – you can go for this one.
You might think that the discussion table for new initiatives is already crowded; well, I think you should invite your customers as well.
At that level of customer-centricity, I want to highlight what you already have. As a reminder, you have:
- a clear idea of your customer journey
- regular calls with your customers,
- thousands of facts and stories about the clients you shared with your teams
- a strong relationship with your Care co-workers.
So, you might go for this habit naturally.
There are two ways to innovate: create a new offer or add value to your existing offer.
By inviting your customers, or even prospective new customers, to the discussion – and listening to them with empathy – you will collect important customer data that will help you in a number of ways.
The results of these customer behavior insights should include gaining a better understanding of what the customer wants, improving the customer experience and providing added value to your customers, thereby improving customer satisfaction.
Practically, you will invite them to test and give feedback on your innovations and ideas.
This will help you to guarantee
- the relevance of your initiatives
- that you get ambassadors
- that you avoid the “pulling a rabbit out of a hat” scenario.
Give it a try for a campaign, new product development, a new service release, to test a crazy idea that has been stuck in your head for months… whatever it is, just try it.
And then let me know how it went. I’m sure you will enjoy the test and learn approach.
So, to recap the five good habits you need to build a customer-centric mindset are, as follows:
- According to the lifetime value of your product and services, set aside planning time to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Test and learn what you propose to them as their user experience through customer journey mapping.
- Set up Monthly calls with 10 of your best customers; or even 10 random customers. It’s only some emails and phone calls. That’s easy to set up.
- Start every one of your meetings with a fact or a story about your customers. Spread the knowledge so you all become customer experts.
- Strengthen your relationship with your customer service co-workers, they are key in the customer journey.
- Co-create with your customers to create value.
I hope this article has given you some ideas to implement as part of your Business Practices, whether this is habits to adopt to bring in meaningful customer analytics, or factors to add to your roadmap to help you become more customer centric. If you do try and adopt a customer centric strategy, I’d be very interested to know! I’m sure you’ll have some good stories to tell me.
I’d love to hear how you got on, any challenges you faced, or if you have any queries if you’re struggling to implement any such changes. I’m here to help so just get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss your situation with you so we can come up with solutions together.
And remember… it’s always a good moment to start.
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