Customer-centricity is a marketing approach and business philosophy that puts customers at the epicenter of any business decision by gaining a deeper understanding of their preferences, behaviors, patterns, and interests to provide customized purchase experiences and increase the chances of success of any new product or service.
But how can you actually know your target if you are a small or mid-sized business?
Running the day-to-day operation of the company sometimes seems overwhelming enough to focus on building this kind of relationship. Nevertheless, customer-centricity can have a significant impact on both the financials and the branding of your business and this may well worth the extra effort.
Start with these tips to get to know your customer given by Camino Financial, a fintech and online lender for underbanked small business owners that has resources for starting and growing entrepreneurial endeavors. Continue with the following article that explores a few more details about customer-centricity to give you a brief overview and some useful insights on how you can start implementing this strategy to improve your business or brand’s relationship with its customers.
What is Customer-Centricity?
The concept of customer-centricity can be traced back to Lester Wunderman, a marketing specialist who coined the term in the 1960s after he identified that companies focused too much on advertising but too little on understanding customers’ preferences, especially during the early stages of the product development process.
Take for example the Barbie doll. This popular product designed for little girls and teenagers was conceived by men and whenever a new Barbie had to be launched, the gap between the customer’s preferences (little girls who wanted cute-looking dolls) and men (who mostly focused on costs and easy-to-manufacture designs), got bigger and bigger.
Customer-centricity takes a different approach, as it focuses on the customer’s needs first before taking any step forward in the product development process, and also seeks constant feedback to validate any decisions that affect the final product that will be delivered to the consumer. The ultimate goal of this approach is to make sure the product suits the needs and demands of the target market.
When it comes to services, customer-centricity also focuses on enhancing the customer’s experience to create a positive link between the brand and the customer’s feelings.
This is something that companies like Disney or Apple understand fairly well. Take the Apple Store as an example: customers who walk into the store are immediately drawn to test the devices and this increases the likelihood of a purchase as customers who are on the fence about buying can clear up any doubts they have on the product.
Disney, on the other hand, has created a whole concept that allows its customers to live a fairy-tale-like experience whenever they visit one of their theme parks or stay at one of the company’s resorts.
These are all good examples of what customer-centricity is all about. And even though your small business may not have Disney’s or Apple’s marketing budget, you can still incorporate the essence of this strategy into your customer service or your shopping experience to enjoy the benefits of this approach.
Benefits of Customer-Centricity
The most easily identifiable advantages of implementing a customer-centric strategy include:
- Higher loyalty among your customer base.
- Positive word-of-mouth and a potentially higher number of referrals.
- Higher rates of success on newly launched product lines and services.
- Better reviews.
How to Become a Customer-Centric SMB?
The following are a few ways to get to know your customer better to successfully develop a customer-centric business approach, based on a few findings from the Harvard Business Review:
- Reward your employees for providing 5-star customer-centric shopping experiences. You may need to think on a system to properly track this and it may take some effort and a/b testing to get it right but, once you do it, it will line up your goals with those of your staff.
- Create opportunities to interact with your customers personally even though this may not be a part of your regular duties. You can get a lot more information (and faster) from a personal conversation than from a market research report.
- Communicate your findings on what your customer wants and prefers to your entire team so they can be on board with you during the implementation of a customer-centric approach.
- Be the example. This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice on customer centricity for SMBs, as business owners should be the embodiment of any strategy they wish to implement successfully.
Have you read about customer-centricity? Have you tried to implement this approach in your small business? Share with us your results and strategies!