For nearly twenty years now, companies have been trying to build a customer-centric culture. But only 14% state that customer centricity is a hallmark of their business, and only 11% believe that their customers would agree to such culture.
Customer-centric, also known as client-centric, is an approach that focuses on building a positive experience for the customer by maximizing product and/or service offerings and forging connections. At first glance, it all seems like a no-brainer; of course, every business wants to provide a positive experience for their customers.
But as the name states, a customer-centric approach places the customer in the center of the business. It means that in a company’s philosophies, operations, and ideas, the customer is involved. Customer-centric businesses believe that the primary reason for their existence is their customers. Hence, they use every resource available to keep their customers satisfied and loyal to them.
Given that the customers give a business revenue, why do only a few companies have a customer-centric culture? In this article, we’ll understand the challenges to building such a culture and what companies can do to create it.
Top Barriers to a Customer-Centric Culture
Traditional Silo Mentality
In business, silos refer to independent operations and refusal to share information. It creates a problem because a silo system or mentality makes it impossible to operate around the customer. The silo mentality is seen as a top-down issue, meaning competition between a company’s senior managers. It starts with a manager being protective of information, then passing down the same behavior to the individual employees.
This creates a problem because each silo has its own operational structure, processes, or even technology. As such, it results in a lack of cross-departmental communication. When information isn’t passed freely across an organization, the workflow suffers an impact. It could lead to some departments working with outdated and inaccurate data. In turn, it’ll complicate how companies deliver value to their customers.
Some companies regard their customers as equal beings when no two customers are the same. Thus, they shouldn’t be treated in the same way. Instead of generalizing customers to cut costs, companies should engage with them more to find out their preferences, expectations, spending habits, and more.
Many business leaders cannot commit to the change a customer-centric culture brings. Personal incentives can pose an issue as well. Some leaders may have personal conflicts with the efforts and investments needed to build a customer-centric culture.
Many businesses also have a problem in evolving from “having” customers to “being” customers. They fail to realize that they must provide what the customers need instead of selling them what they have. They couldn’t prioritize their customer’s well-being during decision-making processes.
Strategies to Adopt a Customer-centric Culture
Practicing empathy enables a business to identify a customer’s emotional need. It also lets them understand the reason for those needs and respond to them accordingly.
To become empathetic, companies should let go of their silo mentality and start being transparent about their organization. They should interact with their customers more, using free instant messaging or effective NPS feedback software. When employees spend more time reading a customer’s message, they will be able to intuit what they want and need.
Gauge Every Applicant’s Customer Orientation
When the HR recruits employees, they should also ask each applicant a question that gauges their customer orientation. Find out why they think customer experience is important for a company. This strategy ensures that potential employees are aligned with customer-centric thinking.
Collect Customer Insight
Besides communicating with customers through messaging and software, companies may also create a Customer and Employee Experience department. This department shall listen to customer calls, read their messages, testimonials, and reviews, and then relay the insights they collect to the higher-ups.
Interact with Customers Directly
Most business models don’t allow for direct customer-and-employee interaction, but it can be worked out. Employees can monitor focus groups, sales, support calls, customer visits, and events involving customers.
Create a Healthy Company Culture
In an organizational silo, departments compete with each other instead of acting as a single, united unit. On the contrary, a healthy company culture cares for employees as though they are customers. Companies should track the link between culture and customer impact. When employees are engaged and satisfied with the company, it will reflect how they serve customers and earn their loyalty.
Companies really have some adjustments to make to build a customer-centric culture. But it’s time for them to start now, given today’s circumstances. Ultimately, empathy is the key. If more companies see from their customers’ perspective, they will understand them better, enabling them to create bespoke services or products.