The key to quality customer-centricity? Data.


Published on: September 2022

Written by: Peter Mulford

Originally published in CustomerThink.


Anticipation is often at the core of customer-centricity. Companies that utilize a customer-centric strategy can often predict every want, need, and possible passing fancy of their target audience — and find themselves handsomely rewarded in the process. Putting the customer front and center, even above revenue, can make a company 60% more profitable. Not a bad proposition for taking great care of one of an operation’s most essential assets.

Of course, claiming to be customer-centric is a far cry from actually being customer-centric. Companies that deploy a successful customer-centric strategy often use a different method of thinking to achieve their results: the “who-what-why” scale. Using these three W’s, every employee can better understand the customer beyond basic demographics. A deeper understanding then helps inform nearly every decision, shapes the experience across all possible touchpoints, and allows for more thoughtful and meaningful targeting.

With this method, employees make customers feel seen and heard. Customers see the company they chose to put their trust in actively meeting their wants and needs. Such basic services can do wonders for brand loyalty and brand advocacy. It can also encourage consumers to devote a larger share of their wallets — around 3% to 20% more.

In a fast-paced society, businesses must always look for the most beneficial way to appeal to customers and retain loyalty. A customer-centric strategy is the first step, though a deeper understanding of the customer’s wants, needs, and communication preferences is necessary for tangible results. This begs the question: How exactly do you come to a deeper understanding of a target audience?

Understanding a target audience

Businesses often use four specific methods to capture consumer insights and better anticipate customers’ wants and needs. The first is naturalistic observation, which monitors people’s interactions with the world. These findings can offer insights into how a target audience might try to fulfill a unique want or need. The second is customer surveys that allow organizations to gather valuable feedback. The third is focus groups, which involve customers discussing products or services.

Big data is the fourth strategy. Unlike the others, this method is where companies are currently experiencing the most change. Cloud computing has led to reimagining customer insight-oriented activities such as customer service analytics, brand experience, social media marketing, and voice of the customer tools.

New options and systems can easily overwhelm anyone looking for the right data to track for customer-centricity. Starting with a limited number of metrics and expanding from there can save you time, money, and hassle. Here’s where to direct your attention first:

1. Brand experience

Tracking brand experience can help capture consumer sentiment about your brand. It gives you a better idea of what people think and feel about your services. If done well, brand experience tracking can shine a light on which of your brand initiatives do or do not work, allowing you to pivot your efforts quickly. Both your net promoter and customer satisfaction scores can help crystalize what consumers might be saying and thinking about your brand.

Surveys can also be a great source of information. Keep questions to a minimum and targeted to encourage more thorough participation. Additionally, make sure not to bombard consumers with questionnaires. Quarterly can be a good frequency to capture such sentiments. Understanding your consumers’ mindsets encourages them to trust your brand and keep coming back for more.

2. Customer experience

Customer experience, or CX, tracking involves understanding the different dimensions of customer delight, including emotional and rational reactions to a company’s offerings. It also provides insights into the customer’s inclination to repurchase, recommend, or reject a product or service in the future.

Using certain data sets, particularly those associated with customer interactions, transactions, and profiles, you can arrive at what McKinsey & Company is calling “predictive insight.” This can help shape CX moving forward. All it takes is machine-learning algorithms to make sense of the information and direct funds toward certain touchpoints most likely to drive behavior along the customer journey.

3. Employee alignment

In a customer-centric organization, every person shares the goal of creating a great CX — from the C-Suite to front-line associates. Tracking and measuring employee alignment, or EA, will give you a better idea of how well each team member understands customers and, more importantly, believes that understanding and fulfilling customer needs are pivotal to the company’s success and their own.

EA starts with a sense of camaraderie and belonging. A Deloitte survey found that 79% of employees tend to agree. What’s more, 93% believe it to be a factor that drives organizational performance. When employees can see a common goal, they are more likely to achieve it for the success of everyone involved.

As with any customer-related initiative, it all comes down to the data. The most important steps are to monitor customer sentiment and understand where your company might fall within their purchase decisions. Just appreciate that one wrong move can leave people seeking alternatives to your services. Customers want what they want when they want it. By focusing on a client-centric business strategy, you can ensure they get it and keep coming back for more.

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