Good customer experiences can only be created when an entire company lives a culture of customer centricity.
“Customers are at the centre of everything, which is why they are always in the way". This is how office humour ironises the frequently praised concept of customer centricity. All too often this concept is not more than just words, as an everyday example shows: In the retail shop of a telecommunications provider, a customer says she wants a good smartphone with her prepaid card. An employee leads her to a display case: “Here we have our low-priced models.”
This is how negative customer experiences are created and those who feel badly treated will prefer to spend their money elsewhere. After a few bad experiences, many customers leave. This does not only affect B2C companies, in the business customer market buyers also expect a level of convenience and service that is “just like at Amazon”.
Customer centricity is a corporate culture
To create a good customer experience (CX), a company must realise customer centricity. In other words, it is a corporate culture that is consistently aligned with the customer’s needs. Every individual at every level of the organisation works on the basis of one assumption only: that almost all of their actions influence the overall customer experience.
Customer centricity is therefore not limited to the journey of the customer up to the point the purchase is completed. The customer experience before and after the purchase is equally important. In the telecoms industry, post-purchase support in particular has a major impact: How quickly are questions answered or minor problems solved, how quickly are technical problems resolved? Customer centricity puts the customer at the centre of all actions – even with regard to strategic decisions that may have an impact on customers.
Loyal customers are highly valuable for companies
Customer experience builds on this. It includes all customer-company touch points, where the best possible experience is to be created. It puts into words how customers feel throughout the entire customer journey and what experiences they have at the various contact points. In short: customer experience is the sum of all experiences customers have with the company.
The more a customer-oriented company can score here, the higher the satisfaction and loyalty of the customers to the company. And satisfied customers are more likely to recommend a company to others. This has an impact on the final result: Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as new customers. Winning them, on the other hand, is six to seven times more expensive than keeping an existing customer. A customer-oriented organisation is therefore more successful in the long run.
Customer experience becomes a unique selling proposition
In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to distinguish themselves through their products. The alternative: only through customer centricity can companies develop customer experiences that lead to long-term customer loyalty and ultimately to a sustainable growth in sales. Customer experience therefore becomes a unique selling proposition.
This is especially important in the digital era, because customers now have much more power. Market alternatives are only a mouse click away. Moreover, the customer experience is transparent: customers share their experiences via social media and ratings portals. Companies need to provide faster innovations, better service and an overall experience that inspires customers so much that they want to share it.
Customer centricity is not a goal
Customer centricity is a means to the fundamental end-goal of improving the customer experience. It would be a misconception of customer centricity to see it as a justification for serving customers the way the company wants – for example, by inundating them with offers by mail or phone. Conversely, it is also not about giving customers everything. After all, all measures for customers must be economically viable, technically feasible and oriented towards their needs.
Customer centricity is the ability of a company to anticipate the needs of its customers, in order to offer them solutions and services that inspire and surprise them. In addition, corporate and commercial interests must be preserved. Because without a functioning business model, the customers' enthusiasm will be short-lived.
All business areas are becoming customer-centric
Many companies have already learned this lesson and pay attention to a satisfying customer experience. Their marketing, sales and service functions already have a strong customer-focus. However, other corporate functions such as IT or controlling have their difficulties with simple messages such as “be customer-centric”.
A strategy of customer centricity takes this into account and defines specific customer journeys for each functional level at the company. These are oriented towards the overarching strategy, but also to the requirements of each area. The IT department, for example, can make sure to communicate in a particularly clear and comprehensible manner in the event of technical problems. In this way, the company becomes completely “customer-centric”, even in the non-customer facing departments.