Most businesses would like to say they are customer-centric. But what is customer centricity and what does it really mean? Customer centricity means placing your customers at the core of your business. While this might sound sensible, few businesses really do it. In practice, they often see their special expertise as being “core” with customers at the periphery and customer service as a “support function” rather than a core process.
There are logical reasons why this happens. For example, if customers love your business because of its products, you may have difficulty keeping abreast of their product-based needs when your capacity is poured into customer service.
Nevertheless, we should ask ourselves whether we can afford not to see our customers as “core,” and if there are ways to achieve this without affecting the quality of our products and our capacity for innovation.
Benefits of a Customer-Centric Approach
There are very few businesses that don’t have competitors. Even if what you offer is unique in its own way, there are alternative places where your customers can spend their money. And those products may have nothing to do with yours while still satisfying similar needs.
Confusing? Let’s suppose you produce gardening products. Your competitors aren’t necessarily other producers of just garden-related items. They include companies that offer other leisure-time activities or hobby supplies.
The idea behind customer-centricity is that your business focuses on customer satisfaction, building customer loyalty, and creating strong relationships between your business and its customers. These are things that almost all businesses say they do, but not all of these businesses really walk the talk.
If you get customer-centricity right, however, the majority of your clients will be happy that they’re doing business with you. They’ll not only continue to support your company with enthusiasm rather than resignation – they’ll recommend your business to their friends. Genuinely happy customers really are an investment in future revenue. In short, it pays to be genuinely customer-centric.
What’s Needed for a Customer-Centric Strategy?
The first basic principle of a customer-centric strategy is that customers are core. They’re part of your business rather than outliers. You express this through a focus on understanding your customers, anticipating their needs, and making interactions with your business both easy and pleasant.
In short, you design your business around your customers and you cater to their perspectives on what your business ought to be. So, instead of trying to shape your customers to fit your business, you shape your business to fit your customers. Simple as that may sound, it’s rarer than you might have expected.
How to Improve Customer-Centricity With Limited Resources
Trying to second-guess your customers won’t work as a way to improve customer centricity. To do that, you need to listen to them. We often think we know what our customers want only to find that they want something else altogether.
Need proof? An IBM study found that while 90 percent of marketers say that personalisation is important, close to 80 percent of customers felt that brands don’t understand their individual needs.
So, what’s the solution? There are no shortcuts. Listening to individuals and meeting their needs, looking at trends among those customers, and adjusting the way you do business is the only way to become customer-centric.
With so much to do, who has time for that? Maybe self-service options and the use of analytics will do. Up to a point, these can help. But imagine the frustration of individuals with problems you didn’t foresee when they’re trying to get your chatbot to converse (they’re still awful at this) or are searching your information resources without finding quite the right answers. Self-service and bot-assisted service are not the same as “good service”.
The Outsourcing Option: Can it Work?
Having real people with the empathy to understand customer needs on the frontline remains the best way to demonstrate customer-centricity. Meanwhile, they can gather information that you can use to limit the kind of issues that make people reach out for help in the first place.
So far, no AI has found a way to demonstrate real empathy or respond to nuances. There’s plenty of talk about this happening in the future, but at present, even the most advanced AI can do little but mirror emotions. Do you want your angry client to get angry responses? As many big concerns found out in 2023, advanced AI is quite capable of insulting their clients.
That leaves you with human interaction as the only solution, but it presents its own set of problems. Having staff available 24/7 is going to be costly if you do it in-house – and customers will expect quick service regardless of the time of day they request it.
Sometimes, calls for service will be few and far between – at other times, they may peak. “High call volumes” is an excuse customers don’t tolerate well. Especially if they’re left holding on to a chat window or their phones for minutes that feel like hours.
It’s possible that outsourcing can be a solution – with some caveats. In the first place, it’s vital that any call centre should have staff with emotional intelligence and great communication skills. They should be articulate, expressive, and ready to listen. These are top-flight people that not every call centre will be able to offer you.
There’s also a bit of fear factor involved in talking to a call centre. There are so many scams these days. The people who work through outsourced call centres must be able to sound and act just like your own employees, or you may lose a vital element of trust.
Customer centricity means that if you outsource, you’ll choose quality – not just in the quality of the people your customers talk to, but in the data they feed back to you. If you outsource customer service, it should be easier to get valuable information on what’s happening with your customers – not more difficult.
Does this sound like a knotty problem? It needn’t be!
Get the Right People on Your Side With RSVP
RSVP is a London-based company offering outsourced customer service and support – and we’re proud to say that we’re different. We don’t just offer people who will pick up the phone or dive into chat – we offer highly skilled communicators who will represent your company as well – or better – than you could yourself.
With advanced software at their fingertips, and a strong understanding of human interaction as an embedded skill, they’ll be able to provide you with the information you need to build customer-centricity into your business.
Discover outsourced Customer Service and Support that prioritises you and your customers at once. We’re a cut above the rest – and we can prove it. Talk to us today!