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Understanding customer-centricity and creating a customer-first experience  

John Wells

John Wells

March 04, 2024

The concept of customer-centricity isn’t new, but it’s becoming increasingly important for modern businesses. Why? Today’s consumers want brands to treat them as people, not personas. It might sound like a subtle nuance, but it can make a powerful difference when it comes to engaging your target audience and fueling loyalty. 

To practice customer-centricity, you must ensure all customer interactions follow three core tenets. First, you must recognize customers as individuals rather than as parts of a broader segment population. Second, you must truly help your customers and provide them with value in some way. (Customers quickly notice when businesses fall short of this must-do.) Finally, you must anticipate and predict what customers need in both the short- and long-term. Once you know where they are on their journeys, you can foster seamless transitions that feel completely natural. 

When all the operations in your company — marketing, product development, customer service, fulfillment, etc. — are matched up against these tenets, you can enjoy all the benefits of customer-centricity. 

The Advantages of a Customer-Centric Business Model 

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of being a customer-centric brand is the positive reputation you garner with the public. As McKinsey & Company has pointed out, customer-centricity is now mandatory, not optional. More than 70% of consumers told researchers they want to receive individualized attention from companies. Will that number increase as artificial intelligence solutions offer increasing opportunities to offer personalization? Probably. You’ll benefit if you can start winning over customers and gaining market reputation and share. 

This leads to another advantage of customer-centricity: the ability to better satisfy customers. A customer with a great experience is likelier to stick around, keep purchasing products and services, and see exchanges as relational rather than transactional. Happy customers are also open to leaving four-star and five-star reviews, which can boost your online credibility, authority, and — in some cases — rankings for specific keywords. 

Why aren’t more companies working toward customer-centricity, then? A key obstacle is change. Getting an entire organization to shift gears is tough. People resist change. They don’t like to be told they’ll need to learn new technologies, try new measurement strategies, or alter their organizational structures and processes. Employees often fear change and failure, even if they want to gain a deeper understanding of customers. 

To overcome these natural fears, you must show everyone in your organization why customer-centricity will be better for the customer, for the organization, and for them. Bringing them along with you on the journey empowers them to own the change and find purpose and meaning for themselves. Purpose has become a motivator for the majority of professionals, according to another McKinsey & Company study. If you can define a clear mission, rationale, and expected impact for establishing customer-first experiences, you’ll be more apt to get widespread buy-in. 

Ways to Improve the Customer Experience 

There are several ways to improve customers’ experiences with your organization. To begin, share your intentions internally and with outside agencies and partners. Customer-centricity is a team effort that only works when everyone knows about it. If you’re like many companies, you may have multiple agencies delivering different services. Each one needs to work in a way that integrates with the others. The customer won’t know that you’ve taken this step, of course. However, ensuring that all your touchpoints and efforts align is essential. 

Next, take an objective inventory of your organization. Conduct a deep dive into all your operations. Be honest about where you’re nailing customer-centricity and where you’re falling short. You can use the results of this assessment to identify the gaps you need to address and fix. For instance, you may notice that some of your outsourced relationships aren’t moving you in a customer-first direction. Aim to correct these friction points sooner rather than later. 

That said, don’t try to do everything at once. You need to have realistic timelines because customer-centricity won’t happen overnight. Set milestones and celebrate them when you get there. Certainly, you need to work with some urgency; the modern buyer-brand experience is changing fast and not slowing down. However, you can’t work so quickly that you muddy the waters and ultimately confuse or frustrate customers. The goal is to shower them with individualized attention. 

It’s easy to say that you’ll be customer-centric, but you might find it more complicated to execute than you thought. In that case, consider reaching out to RAPP. We can help you start small and build upon initial proofs of concept to move the needle on your desire to adopt a customer-centric business model. 

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