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4 Steps to Creating a Culture of Customer Centricity

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Siobhan Fagan

Managing Editor, CMSWire/Simpler Media Group

Siobhan Fagan, Managing Editor, CMSWire/Simpler Media Group, [email protected]

Over the last few years, customer experience stopped being a matter of debate and became the accepted ground on which all businesses, no matter their vertical, compete. Yet in spite of this recognition, most businesses skate by, delivering mediocre (or worse) experiences to their customers.

Why is this?

Delivering excellent customer experiences sounds simple in theory, yet in practice is incredibly complex. Simple, because all customers really want is for your business to help them. Complex, because being helpful in this case requires companies to fundamentally rethink how they’ve done business for years. Gone are the days of pushing out products or services under the assumption customers want them; instead, businesses must learn to listen to what customers really need. Creating a customer-centric culture is a major step in this journey.

Research firm Forrester defines customer centricity as “a system of shared values and behaviors that focus employee activity on improving the customer experience.” This approach effectively realigns the entire organization around one objective: helping customers achieve their goals. The scale of the change goes far in explaining why customer centricity remains an aspiration for most businesses.

So what does this look like in practice? Clearly this topic is larger than this space allows, but there are some fundamentals.

1. Dismantle silos

Data silos, isolated business functions, and channel thinking can all hamper customer experience efforts. Respondents to our annual State of Digital Customer Experience survey named “siloed systems and fragmented customer data” as a top challenge every year since it started conducting the research five years ago. Without a common source of customer data, without cross-departmental alignment, without realigning the business towards the common goal of meeting customers’ needs, businesses will continue to deliver piecemeal, fragmented experiences.

2. Create a clear CX strategy and identify the right metrics

Two common blights that strike down customer experience strategies are, first, the strategy being too high level and therefore impossible to put into action, and second, the strategy becoming a list of isolated tactics without a common goal. Strong strategies are specific, contextually aware and easily articulated — an important factor when involving people across the organization.

Establishing methods of measurement up-front is key to not only identifying weaknesses, pinpointing successes, and ensuring the strategy is being properly executed, but also to seeking future funding for CX projects.

3. Share customer insights across the business 

It’s easy to make assumptions about buyer’s intent and codify those views into practice with buyer personas. Bringing customer feedback into every area of the business and giving access to stakeholders across the company ensure the business can take action to meet the needs of real people and not preconceived notions of who your buyers are.

4. Treat customer data with respect  

Edelman reports only 34 percent of consumers trust most of the brands they buy or use. These same consumers are using trust as a major factor in their decision to start or continue doing business with a brand.

One of the largest factors affecting the trust score is a business’s handling of customer data. Over the last decade, the proliferation of data sources created a belief among businesses that the more customer data they collected, the better. Yet as customers have grown increasingly aware of the high cost of poor data practices, these land-grab data collection practices are increasingly unacceptable to customers. New and forthcoming data regulations, including the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, have mandated the creation of a new era of respectful data collection. The businesses that do this well will have an advantage.

The future is here

Customer centricity has remained an aspiration for too long — it’s time to make it a reality. Put the customer’s best interests at the center of every decision your business makes, and the rewards will make your efforts worth it.

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