Let’s take a look at customer centricity today.
A customer centric business model is one that is arranged and organized around the customers’ needs and desires. It is a market focused and customer facing model, with strategies being determined by the market rather than the enterprises’ needs. Customer centricity places the customer at the core of your business and also considers customers first before any other thing. The phrase that the Customer is King is part of a customer centric business, though customer centricity goes beyond just offering a great service. Creating a great customer experience goes through awareness, purchase and post-purchase or post-sale processes. Don’t you think these are valuable points for an entrepreneur to know?
When looking at customer centricity you are looking at understanding your customer by a customer focused leadership. You are looking at designing, implementing and monitoring an experience that matters to the customers or clients. You are looking at using information about your customers to serve them better. You are looking at empowering your people to ensure they can always deliver delight to your clients. You are looking at communicating across board and making use of feedback to enable you continually improve your performance in the market, as a business. Candidly, this idea of customer centricity is one of the prime business ideas that every serious entrepreneur should embrace. Don’t you agree with me? Come on!
Now, what are my 9 tips an entrepreneur can use to build a customer centric business?
- Set the tone at the leadership and strategic level. As a starting point, you have to analyse, plan and implement a strategy that focuses on the customer. You need their long-term loyalty to ensure continued profitable business. Customer centricity requires a good starting tone set at the leadership and top executive level. Never make a mistake and ignore this at the leadership level and somehow think that it will work well at other levels. It will not work and I’m just being brutally honest about it. If we need to build great enterprises and entrepreneurs, we have to face realities and work on them to move forward. A leadership that is clueless about customer centricity will certainly not establish and build customer centricity in the business. I hope you are following what I’m writing here! Leaders must walk the talk.
- Ensure your entire business culture and values places emphasis on the customer or client. Business culture and values are at the core of the enterprise. They are ingrained into the entire enterprise and guide many things. New comers into the enterprise easily see these and also adopt them. If you desire to be a customer centric business, ensure that everything you do centers around the customer. Develop, produce, market, sell and offer after sales services in a customer centric way. You cannot lie about this because the market will find you out if you deceive people that your culture and values are customer centric, and you are discovered doing the opposite. Pigeons always come back to roost my friend. Be honest!
- Establish client satisfaction or client delight goals and objectives. Entrepreneur (without sounding gender biased due to use of the Mr.), be passionate about the customer and develop products and services around the customer’s needs and requirements. Ensure you work towards customer or client delight. Remember what I usually say in my blogs. All things that don’t get measured don’t get improved. Using client delight goals and objectives ensures loyal customers, and loyal customers are very valuable and help reduce your costs of acquiring new ones. It’s also easier to sell to your local customers. There is no way you can brag to be a customer centric business when you are not focused on creating customer delight. It must be on your agenda. Period!
- Ensure staffs are all oriented and trained towards the customer focus. Now, I’m always talking about staffs or rather, human capital (HC) in the business. I don’t mean to bore you stiff with this HC stuff but I guess you already know that human beings can make your business successful, but could also damn it. I don’t think there is any argument or negotiation on this point. The important issue here is that you should ensure that all your staffs are oriented and are trained towards customer focus. I mean all staffs. Don’t imagine that you can only orientate and train your marketing and sales staffs, and have clueless front-desk, finance, and production etc. staffs. You will pay for this dearly. Ensure that all your staffs have these customer focus and centricity thing properly retained in their mental faculties and daily work habits, so that they don’t need reminders every day. You need delighted clients. Don’t you? Those clients see more of your staffs than you the entrepreneur. Isn’t this a truism? Speak the truth my dear!
- Continually monitor and assess staff performance in light of your client service goals and objectives. Again, all things that don’t get measured don’t get improved. Can you imagine what value of motivation you will add to your staff that excels in customer focus, if that staff is publicly recognized and even rewarded? However, how will you even know this if you don’t monitor and measure? I know sometimes entrepreneurs get too busy doing all sorts of things and dreaming about business ideas that they even forget to say thank you to a staff. Come on! I’m not lying. So, what I’m saying is this; monitor and measure staff performance regarding customer centricity, in light of your goals and objectives in this perspective, and reward excellence. I will leave the penalty bit of it to you to think about! I know the phrase rewards and penalties are common corporate and business lingo.
- Constantly communicate to the market. Be personal. Provide relevant and tailored communication to the clients based on their preferences. Additionally, communicate internally customer focus throughout the business. My dear entrepreneur, the fact that you are marketing and selling products and services to the market, moreover working with a number of people in your business, makes communication very important. Just for emphasis, if you are the only one running your enterprise, you probably also need to communicate to yourself. Please, communicate in a personal, relevant, tailored way to your clients, based on their needs. Don’t be so boringly generic when you communicate. Have an edge and style. Show that you have some clue about diversity, and your six senses are working. Ok? Beyond the market, do likewise internally. This is another very important tip you can use to build a customer centric business.
- Make use of customer knowledge management. Customer knowledge management (CKM), together with customer relationship management (CRM) mentioned in the next point, have changed and determined levels of business success globally. You can only be a daft entrepreneur to ignore these forever. The good thing for the market and humanity is that businesses that ignore these usually don’t last long. I’m serious. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not praying and wishing for your failure, but I need you to be a serious entrepreneur that creates and delivers real value to humanity. Do you get me? You know the products and services your customers need so provide them at the right time and place and also price. You know their likes and dislikes so make use of that information. Don’t be dumb and insensitive. Leverage promotions based on the most successful products. Understand customer behaviours and attitudes and make use of this knowledge you have. Do the best that you can to help create customer delight and retain your customers.
- Use world-class customer relationship management. CRM works together with CKM mentioned above. Build good CRM based on ensuring the best customer experience. Have a two way feedback. Love your customers beyond just business, but be careful when you find other forms of love along the way! The good thing about CRM is that you manage business relationships in a way that positively promotes your business reputation. Your reputation will give you repeat business and help you address competition in an easy way. Again, when I talk about world class, I’m meaning the best-in-approach in a global standard. I know there is also world-class badness etc. I’m limiting myself to the good side of things here. If you want to sharpen yourself in evil and badness, that is up to you.
- Continually monitor and measure your performance from your customer’s perspectives. Beyond establishing client delight goals and objectives, and measuring performance of your staffs in this regard, listen also to candid and objective assessment from your customers. This will not only help you to build a customer centric business, but will also ensure customer retention and greater customer lifetime value for your business. Recognise and reward loyal customers. Don’t be afraid to take criticism from your clients. You can make use of these to build a smarter business.
Haven’t we really had enough for today? I choose to have another swift ending now.
Have a fantabulous new week!
The Wise Entrepreneur