For years, the term ‘Customer-Centric’ has been tossed around while working sales and service. To be fully transparent, I’ve used the term in those settings, while running my business units/companies, and while contemplating ‘life’ during this COVID epidemic... And, I’ve found reason to pause, asking “what it really means to be ‘Customer-Centric’... in today’s new world!”
A historical look at the ‘Customer-Centricity’?
The origins of customer-centric marketing date back to the1960’s direct marketing revolution and are “largely credited to the marketing guru Lester Wunderman” (reference article University Custora.). In the 1960’s, television and radio became the means for media marketing to reach large audiences. Madison Avenue marketeers, exampled in television series like ‘Mad Men’ 😀, led direct marketing by reaching out to targeted buyers with marketing schemes specifically designed to catch the focus group’s eye.
Early success of customer-centric marketing, along with the evolution of technology, enabled ingenious marketing specialists to advance the dynamics of the customer-centric model. Through the 1960s and 1970s, marketers advanced their methods of engagement with media buys and polling in the 1980’s while tracking customer behavior and brand loyalty with ‘loyalty cards’. In the 1990’s, technology expanded marketers efforts with the use of the internet and email.
The rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has raised the stakes in marketers ability to hone their skills in engaging customer’s at the right time and place, with the right product. Especially as customers have foregone privacy for a more streamlined, expedient purchase journey.
So what does ‘Customer-Centric’ really mean?
According to TechTarget, Customer Centric is defined as“an approach to doing business that focuses on providing a positive customer experience both at the point of sales and after the sale in order to drive profit and gain a competitive advantage. “Their definition continues,”the philosophies and operations of customer-centric businesses revolve around their most valuable customers and making sure they’re happy.“
Sometimes referred to as Client-Centric, Customer-Centric is adapting the business mentality (or value) of placing your customer at the center of everything you do. Everything! Being Customer Centric means your business is taking an approach to doing business that focuses on creating a positive experience for your customer by maximizing that customer experience and engagement with your company’s products and services, and the company’s on-going relationship with the customer.
Basics review of Customer Centric Modeling
So being ‘Customer-Centric’ is not a new idea; however, changing customer behavior and technology advancements (mobile devices, social media, IoT, and artificial intelligence) are changing how and when customers want to be heard and immediacy.
In today’s mobile world, (a COVID-19 mobile world) customers are willing to grant companies they interact with access to their personal data to ensure that their engagement with a company is personalized. There is a bartering between customer and company, or agreement of reciprocity, and the agreement a company strikes with a customer cannot be underestimated - A customer’s view, “I’ll forego my privacy, if you ensure that you’ve understood my motivation and desire.” The customer expects value - The customer has foregone personal privacy so a company might predict and customize their purchase journey! Risk alert!! If value is not exchanged, the customer will change direction.
More and more, studies show that customers decisions to purchase a product may come down to how that company’s brand aligns with their beliefs. Research from Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” report, revealed that “76% of consumers and business buyers say it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.” Companies need to ensure they’re listening to their customer on a preferred channel (social media, email, SMS/MMS), they’re personalizing the engagement, and aligning their products and services to the customer’s need.
So how can companies ensure they’re listening to customers; at the right time... how and when that customer wants to be heard? Adopting a strategy that aligns people, processes, and technology is key. Adopting the right customer service platform, like Salesforce, plays a major role in creating a customer-centric experience. Salesforce enables sales & service teams to create seamless, omni-channel, supportmodels that provide customers sourced engagement with their service provider. Quality CRM tools, enable companies to surface relevant, personalized, data to sales and service representatives at key points of the customer engagement journey.
Salesforce reports that “a significant majority (84%) of customers say being treated like a person, rather than a number, is very important to winning their business. And with 76% of consumers and business buyers saying it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, the pressure is on for organizations to get the customer experience right.” And, ready for this final statistic,“63% of consumers will pay more for a great experience.”
Companies need to empower their frontline employees on ways to anticipate customers’ needs and provide them with the right tools to make their interactions genuine.
Customers want to be valued, personally, for their purchases and for their loyalty. They demand companies understand their motivations and want companies lock-step with them through their entire engagement. Be passionate about your customer: know your customer, be your customer, connect with your customer, and create value for your customer. Commit to Customer Centric Plans that create loyal customers in a profitable environment. And, don’t forget, measure your customer loyalty by measuring your company’s Customer Satisfaction index and Net Promotor Score.
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About Michael Sturgis
Michael is a 6xSalesforce Certified Professional and Founder of SCI 360, a Salesforce Registered Consulting Partner. He has been working within the Salesforce ecosystem for more than 15 years with experience in Sales, Implementations, and Service. Michael has over 25 years working experience in the Insurance Sector, Financial Services Vertical. Michael is also a proud member of Vetforce (USMC) and was recognized as top Trailblazer in 2018.