Companies everywhere, in virtually every industry, are finding that a customer-centric approach to doing business is serving them well in the digital age. Thanks to user-generated content and social media, customers aren’t just always right, they’re also well informed.
The popular Spanish-language American TV network Univision experienced a sharp upturn in viewership when it decided to pay closer attention to its customers’ viewing habits and interests, specifically their internet usage habits. according to business consultant Matt Kleinschmit in “9 Notable Examples of Customer-Centric Moves in 2015” on VisionCritical.com.
Univision’s market research revealed that viewers across the nation were migrating to mobile devices, prompting the TV network to release a branded app and engage viewers across multiple social networks, from YouTube and Facebook to Snapchat and Vine.
Since Univision switched to its mobile-first, customer-centric business model, it has found that 70 percent of its audience is now mobile exclusive. These app users can even engage with the network’s programming. For example, the reality competition show La Banda allows viewers to participate through a mobile-friendly voting system.
Univision’s new approach is part of a growing trend. More and more, businesses from small sole proprietorships to Fortune 500 corporations are adopting customer centricity and experiencing record growth. By learning to harness the insights gained through customer participation and requests, online executive MBA students can prepare themselves to hold a C-suite or upper-level management position in an increasingly customer-friendly economy.
Prioritizing Customers’ Wants and Needs
It’s no secret that the internet and the proliferation of mobile devices have given customers a greater voice in business. Customers are engaged through social media profiles and share their likes and dislikes with others by writing reviews and rating experiences. Consumer behavior feeds analytics, which in turn drives executive decision-making.
Many forward-thinking companies are harnessing the data produced by customers’ social media activity, search terms, and browsing habits to create valuable customer insights. These insights are then used to make decisions that reflect a customer-centric outlook.
To describe this comprehensive business model, behavior training and development firm Eagle’s Flight coined the See Own Do model of customer centricity, which it defines as:
- See: Seek opportunities to improve the customer experience by seeing your business through the customer’s perspective, and filter all decisions through customer need.
- Own: Seek to own the customer experience through personal accountability in all aspects of responsibility, and don’t assume that someone else will take care of a problem.
- Do: Every manager and employee can have an impact on the customer experience by balancing personal judgment and corporate policy, and assessing corporate authority and personal ability to determine immediate next steps to please the customer.
A customer-centric company also employs a marketing staff that regularly reviews and analyzes customer data to derive insights that can be shared throughout the company, according to digital marketer Steven MacDonald in his SuperOffice.com article, “How to Create a Customer Centric Strategy for Your Business.”
MacDonald also points out that customer-centric companies should develop products and services around customer wants and needs. The age of developing a product and attempting to generate a demand for it after the fact are over. Building relationships around customers’ experiences — before, during, and after the sale — and vying for customer loyalty now take precedence.
Customer Value: What Customers Can Offer You
The reason why so many successful companies have transitioned into being more customer-centric is that they understand how to determine customer value and act on that value to make the types of sales customers can be excited about.
And customer behavior matters as much when dealing with C-suite, business-to-business (B2B) customers as it does on the consumer level.
“Customer-centric organizations are 60 percent more profitable than non-customer-focused organizations,” explains Colin Shaw in Beyond Philosophy’s “7 Reasons to Focus on Customer Value.” Shaw goes on to list the reasons why B2B companies should shift their focus to better appeal to C-level executive customers:
- Customers want value, not products: Only 16 percent of C-suite, B2B buyers choose to go with a company or vendor because of a product. What they prize instead is the service and sales experience provided by that vendor.
- Value-ology helps organizations grow faster: Companies that leverage online resources and analytics to learn about their customers grow some 21 percent faster than competitors that are not customer-centric.
- Stop wasting money and resonate with customers: B2B organizations waste an estimated $958 million on ineffective marketing, and customers are continually disengaging because the company fails to connect with them and their needs.
- Achieve customer alignment: Typical customers are already more than halfway through the buying process by the time they connect with a vendor. Most of them have a clear picture of what they are looking for by the time they make the connection. Collaborate with customers early and align quickly with their needs if you are interested in keeping them.
- Marketing and sales must collaborate: The sales department never uses about 90 percent of marketing content, and almost as many marketers have no idea what content their sales team needs. Collaboration between the two departments could greatly reduce this inefficiency.
- Relevance sells more: Most deals fall through because the customer feels that value has not been effectively proven. Persuasive, relevant marketing must be created to prove to potential customers and clients that they will receive the value they need.
- Service and experience are king: Few companies actually follow up with their customers to see if the value that was promised was actually present in the product once it was used. Simple follow-ups can improve the customer experience and inform the vendor of serious problems in their product before they start losing customers.
Although Shaw’s list is tailored to B2B businesses that deal with C-suite executive customers, the advice can easily be applied to the way a retail business deals with its consumers. Companies that go out to meet their customers where they are, on smartphones and social networks, instead of waiting for the customer to come to them are going to experience far more success in a customer-centric world.
Washington State University’s EMBA Degree Program
Washington State University prepares online Executive MBA (EMBA) students to hold executive and high-level management positions in any industry. Customer centricity is just one example of the relevant business trends addressed in this elite program.
Washington State University’s Carson College of Business offers an online Executive MBA program that provides students the knowledge, skills, and training to rise to the top of innovative industries as influential business leaders and effective decision-makers.
To support future innovation leaders, Washington State University’s EMBA curriculum includes managerial leadership and productivity, organizational design, and management of innovation. Contact Washington State for more information.
Examples of Customer Centricity – Vision Critical
Customer Centricity in Action – Eagle’s Flight
Creating a Customer Centric Strategy – SuperOffice.com
Reasons to Focus on Customer Value – Beyond Philosophy