Customer communication is still undergoing huge changes. The tool of digitalization brings ever new customer insights, allowing you to draw numerous conclusions and effectively evaluating the tried and tested. Digitally collected data then plays a vital role in creating all-encompassing Customer Centricity as part of a holistic corporate strategy. A fitting and timely example is data protection. In order to keep from getting lost down this seemingly endless rabbit hole, it is important to scrutinize relevant topics down to the smallest detail. What has changed, in what way and what does the future hold? Optimizing Customer Centricity means completely tailoring a company to the needs of its customers. When doing this however, it is equally vital to not lose sight of one’s economic objectives. The concept of the Customer Experience is not new and by no means a product of digital transformation, because companies also had to win, hold and satisfy customers in the (pre-digital) past. Today, we are talking about Customer Centricity in the digital world, which offers the marketer many new opportunities. But what significance does a customer-centric method play for companies in 2019?
How valuable is even the most innovative product if the company selling it is unable to build a relationship with potentially interested customers? The answer is already in the question: The value is lost.
For example, let’s take a look at Customer Centricity in E-Commerce. When products are offered over the Internet, there are usually multiple customer contact channels available. Companies present themselves not only via their own website, but also use social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to build and engage with their own customer bases there. Users who are mostly on Facebook, for example, will contact the company via this platform when they have questions or complaints. A watchful eye is needed in this case, as no-one, especially not paying customers, likes to be ignored! In addition, this gives the customer various ways to get service - either via a classic private message or by adding a comment under a post. But even a simple Facebook reaction can and should be seen as customer contact: a sad or angry emoji clearly expresses the current customer mood regarding the company. In the course of this article, the role of digitization in Customer Centricity is explored further.
"Organization. The culture. The mindset. The service. The adaptation of products. The services. The business model. The entire foundation. The foundation of the future of the company. This is where the complexity begins. The future of the company hangs on these elements." - Johannes Ceh (Digital Consultant and Author)
Customer Centricity has not just grown in importance, but has become a vital, integrated part of a company’s strategy. Its main goal has not changed from then to now - converting users to loyal customers. However, the strategy must be more sophisticated and designed on the basis of sound data. Customer Centricity’s overriding purpose is to increase closeness to the customer. If the distance between the company and interested parties is reduced, i.e. the provider is closer to the user, they can also visualize them better, assess them more accurately and react more competently to them. This personal approach is important to turn a potential connection into a loyal business relationship. In a nutshell:
Each company follows specific goals that are firmly anchored in their business plan. Underlying strategies should help realize these plans and ensure the goals are reached. This requires a long-term approach to achieve and secure financial success. On the way are numerous milestones, partial goals that need to be achieved based on the fundamental analysis of both market and competition.
The five-force model by Michael Porter and Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad’s core competencies are among the best-known strategies to deal with these.
New models incorporate the entire economic situation in the context of the business, deliberately locate strategic orientations in niches, and react specifically to anticipated market changes or competitors. Two key questions that every strategist must ask themselves are:
Part of any strategy must be the winning and retaining of customers. Without people who, for example, repeatedly buy a product, a sales focused company cannot exist. But who are these loyal customers? What do they look like, what do they do in their free time and what demographic data is available about them? How are they accessible and how do they want to be addressed? The wishes and needs of potential and actual prospects are therefore the focus – and thus Customer Centricity should be one of the central pillars of any corporate strategy.
If you want to do everything right, you always run the risk of making mistakes: Some overshoot their target though excessive and unfocused motivation, others aim incorrectly and miss it entirely. A healthy self-perception is important in order to question the company's internal actions and, if necessary, to optimize them. But self and external assessment for Customer Centricity are not always congruent. For example, around 75% of companies see themselves as customer-oriented - yet only 30% of their customers share this perception.
Nevertheless, it is worth building on Customer Centricity:
Also worth reading: Too many similar terms spoil the soup? We deal with all of them in detail in our article: Customer Orientation vs. Customer Centricity.
Luise Hübbe (Chief Digital Officer at Geometry) neatly summarizes the do’s: she sees Customer Centricity as a
"A holistic marketing and innovation device that does not get lost in the small-scale of optimization, but considers and analyzes journeys along all the possible touchpoints."
Those who strive for success on the market must not focus solely on their own range of products or services. In 2019, it is important to tailor your offer in such a way that demand is not just met, but also maintained. Customers do not just want to be handled but involved, and companies that automatically involve customers bind them to their organization.
Customer relationships are not one-way streets: collected feedback must also be processed using effective complaint management. This means companies need to respond to customer dissatisfaction by adjusting their product portfolio, services, visibility, website user-friendliness, distribution, and the like. Success is no longer defined by how a company presents itself, but by how it is perceived - and no-one should underestimate the effects of either negative or positive word-of-mouth publicity.
When thinking about customer relationships, it is impossible to ignore the term Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Which processes serve the stabilization and development of customer relationships? This question is at the heart of companies CRM departments, which is often located in marketing. Customer relationships need to be documented, managed and maintained in order to build a long-term business-to-consumer (B2C) connection that ultimately brings holistic success and part of the company's strategy.
Understanding is the basis for the creation of new products and services as well as exploiting their potential. When the assembly instructions are unclear, you may still be able to put a wardrobe together, but you can never be sure how long it will last. Customers also need to be understood. Just how does it work?
1. Defining Audiences
In order to understand your own target group, you should have them in mind. Personas are fictitious detailed descriptions that are representative of potential customers. For example, character traits, usage behavior or appearance are taken into account.
2. Take a User Perspective
What might be the expectations for future services and planned products? In order to approach this question, one has to switch to a persona-based customer view and to experience and evaluate the possible offer "from their point of view" (User Stories).
3. Understand Customer Journeys
How exactly do users go online in order to get their products? Or: What stages is the Customer Experience divided into? Here it is important to leave the theory behind and instead visualize the customer journey through customer journey mapping.
4. Gathering Feedback
Data and customer centering: Opinions are fundamental, so why not include feedback in the development phase? The lean start-up method is based on the principle of "learning on the model". Raw versions of products are provided and further development takes place with the help of customer feedback.
5. Measuring Satisfaction
A satisfied customer is not automatically an enthusiastic customer. In this context, The Kano method of measuring satisfaction in terms of performance is often mentioned. The model splits each performance into basic, performance, and enthusiasm features that affect customer satisfaction differently.
6. Involving Customers
Those who really live Customer Centricity engage interested parties in entrepreneurial thoughts and then cooperate with them. The principle known as "co-creation" is an exciting topic that can be realized, for example, with a workshop – helping you get to know the needs and concerns of customers in a playful way.
Searching for "customer centric" on Google currently delivers over 98 million results. This enormous number of hits is no accident. On the contrary - it is a testament to both the massive impact of digitalization and the importance of customer centering in the digital age. New technologies have shifted the balance of power between supply and demand – and Customer Centricity is one of the most effective tools in the box to help you manage this change.
"You have to start with the customer in mind"– Steve Jobs
Digitialization’s possibilities are numerous – for both the customer and provider. Review portals on the internet are ten a penny. It is easy to both vent anger and express joy. At a time when focus is heavily on the topic of data protection, Internet users have grown ever more vigilant. With just a few clicks, the online valuation of a company is set in stone and in a Google search feedback also appears in higher Google rankings, if it is from a click-heavy portal. It is precisely this search that precedes almost every purchase decision today. The so-called Zero Moment of Truth describes this phenomenon of digitization: customers research before they buy. For companies, this means connecting with their target group much earlier, otherwise they run the risk of negative reviews. In a nutshell:
A customer-centric approach encompasses the operational, strategic and day-to-day management of a company, because modern critical and informed customers expect:
Marketing expertise is often fragmented. The e-mail professionals sit over here, the social media specialists are over there and behind them are the content marketing staff. That's okay in principle, because after all, which company can only employ all-rounders? But when it comes to Customer Centricity, it is important that all the links in the process chain are solidly connected. In other words: Customer Centricity without silos.
Today, entrepreneurs primarily reach their customers online: digital marketing is one of the key factors in e-commerce success. Customer relationships are not only maintained but also psychologically managed by linear binding tactics, leading to a change of perspective from the market to the customer. The center is changing because it is no longer just a question of analyzing the market, but of taking time to get to know the people who are in it. Knowing the customer eases an all-round experience, i.e. one based on an appreciation which does not stop at any point of contact between company and customer.
If you want to effectively center customers, you should integrate the topic into your organization's strategy instead of delegating it to different competencies. Customer Centricity only in marketing or sales? No, it acts as an important cog in the entire machine. This all-encompassing approach overreaches departments, seamlessly merges processes, and integrates the customer into an overall results-focused strategy. A team of experts is conceivable to monitor and control the interdisciplinary requirements for all customer-related activities. But it will hardly be possible to meet the high standards with human hands alone. The solution is technical aids for Customer Loyalty.
"Customer centering is the key to our company's success. zenloop helps us to focus on the customer and immediately share insights to all areas" – Julia Bösch (Chief Executive Officer at Outfittery).
From a purely business point of view a satisfied, loyal, returning customer is a multi-layered construct. In order to bring such a regular customer to life, you need software that perfectly assembles the individual pieces of the puzzle. The zenloop solution is called Net Promoter Score® or NPS® – for evaluating and processing countless valuable customer comments and for calculating the customer satisfaction index.
Content Marketing Manager