Even though customer-centric cultures seem like a recent phenomenon, it has been around for almost two decades now.
But why is it so important for organizations to be customer-centric? Well, probably because it plays a central role in establishing customer loyalty. After all, a supreme customer experience does not magically happen; it requires active efforts on an organization’s part – efforts that start with a commitment to creating a customer-centric culture.
How can organizations determine if they have a winning customer experience in place? Revenue is a pretty good indicator. According to research conducted by Forrester, brands with high-rated customer experience see their revenues grow at twice the rate compared to brands with a sub-par customer experience.
And you do not need to make major CX improvements to see noticeable gains – as portrayed by the Temkin Group’s ‘ROI of Customer Experience Model’. According to this model, a typical $1 billion business can, on average, increase its revenue by $775 million over three years, merely by making small modifications to customer experience. These modifications could be as simple as streamlining the purchase process or reducing customer waiting times.
When you convert these one-off changes into consistent, inherent, and replicable practices and policies, you can create a larger positive impact on your revenue and brand image.
Here are six ways to create a customer-centric culture.
6 Ways to Build a Customer-Centric Culture
1) Emphasize on Customer Empathy
Empathy is a lovely buzzword to throw around, but very few organizations understand the meaning behind it. Customer empathy has a three-part definition:
- Identifying the customer’s emotional needs
- Understanding the reasons driving those needs
- Responding to those needs appropriately and constructively
Despite all the hype around it, customer empathy is far from the norm: as per PwC, only 38% U.S consumers believe that the organizational representatives they engage with understand their needs.
To establish empathy as a universal organizational value, leaders must walk the walk. Slack, the business communication software company, is one example of organizations that practice genuine customer empathy.
For example, the company employees dedicate a large chunk of their work hours reading client messages and noticing customers to identify their needs and wants. Customer support specialists, meanwhile, are encouraged to learn more about the consumers and create mini-personas to better understand the different ways in which people use Slack.
2) Support Customer Representatives in their Interactions
Salespeople are the face of your organization, and yet, are often handcuffed by procedures, policies, and paper. Do you want your sales team to focus on helping customers? Or do you want them to use up their energy trying to abide by the rules enforced upon them by the accounting, HR, legal, marketing, finance, and other departments?
To truly assist your sales team, you need to conduct listening sessions and learn about the elements keeping it from doing its core job. Get rid of all obstacles preventing your salespeople from spending time with customers.
Get rid of restrictive policies, redundant procedures, and unnecessary rules. You could even invest in sales tools like CRM, sales intelligence, sales analytics, and sales productivity programs.
3)Recruit for Customer Orientation
Every candidate, from the very first interaction with your company, should be clear about the organization’s customer-centric culture. They should know and understand how important it is for your company to keep the customer at the heart of all important decisions.
For example, come up with an interview question that will help you determine a potential employee’s customer orientation. You should also ensure that the candidate is an effective communicator and is comfortable with CRM tools and other sales-related tech. This not only ensures that every potential employee is aligned with your customer-centric culture, but also helps emphasize your company’s commitment to creating superior customer experiences.
4) Tie Compensation to Customer
An organization’s compensation program can also help reinforce a customer-centric culture. Employees should know that they are expected to act and behave in customer-centric ways, and that their compensation packages will be reflective of how well they do it. In other words, employees should have some skin in this game.
Adobe implemented such a program where employee compensation was tied to the customer. The company’s cash incentive short-term program focused not only on its revenue growth, but also on customer success indicators like retention percentage. Such a program helps make tangible each employee’s contribution to customer experience, while also ensuring company-wide alignment since everyone is now working towards the same goals.
5) Seek Out Customer Feedback
Customer advisory boards are a unique but effective way to engage customers and obtain valuable insights. After all, no one is more familiar withyour business than your key customers.
These measures can help validate your overall organizational strategy, and guide you with regards to new markets, partnership and synergistic opportunities, branding and position, competitive weaknesses, and the best way to leverage new trends. Other than that, valuable customers are often in pole position to validate your service or product offerings.
6)Make Customer Insights Accessible to Employees
To help employees adopt a customer-centric mindset, you must help them understand the customer. This requires you to democratize customer insights; you cannot keep these insights within the marketing and sales departments, and expect the other departments to mind their own businesses.
Adobe created a combined ‘customer and employee experience’ team with the purpose of helping its workforce better understand the customer. The team set up listening stations where employees could go – either remotely or through an Adobe office – and listen to customer phone calls. And, at each all-employee meeting, the management would give updates about the organization’s performance with respect to customer experience.
Organizational leaders are beginning to understand that culture and strategies work in tandem, and one cannot exist without the other.
Hence, it is important to develop strategies and policies that support and further your vision of a customer-centric organizational culture.