All businesses would like to think that their organization is customer-centric but in most cases, this isn’t necessarily true. Sure, everyone in your team works hard to improve the services you provide and come up with new solutions to the challenges that your customers face but sometimes there’s a disconnect between what you are planning with what your customers actually need.
While there’s no rule that your business should only base all of its actions and decisions on what customers demand and need, it should make up a good chunk of your strategy if you truly want to provide solutions to those who need it. Your customers need to be your focus if you want to craft anything that will appeal to your target market. Ignoring what they need and want wouldn’t be too wise if you’re hoping to push your enterprise forward.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses are more product or service-centric rather than customer-focused. This is not necessarily a bad thing as you’d want your product or service to be one of, if not the, best in order to survive the competition. However, by focusing on what you can offer rather than putting yourself in the position of your clientele, are you really sure that you’re crafting something that can answer their actual needs? How can you be certain that your products and services can still adequately meet the requirements of your customers if you’re not going to look at things from their perspective?
What Is Customer-Centric Business
There could be a lot of confusion when it comes to the definition of what being customer-focused means. Others, as mentioned above, believe that if their products and services are already tailor-fit to provide solutions to their customers, they’re already customer-focused. While this is one way to look at it, it’s still missing an essential element: the enhanced customer experience.
A true customer-focused enterprise should also think about the experience of their clientele when doing business with them. In many cases, even if the product or service in itself is great, if the customer experience is not satisfactory, a business can still fail in winning someone over. As sales can always be elevated by customer retention, it’s ideal to always think one step ahead. By covering all your bases, you can take your sales to the next level by securing a repeat customer.
With good customer service before and after the sale, a repeat customer can be secured in the process. As loyal customers are proven to be worth ten times more than new ones, it would be highly beneficial for any business to secure many of them as well. By putting the customer first and at the core of your business, you can aim to make more than just a sale but also build long-lasting relationships.
With a well-crafted product, you can certainly effectively address the needs of your clientele. However, as you must know by now, conducting business today is more than just making a sale. You’d also want your customers to come back for more and continuously patronize your offerings. You’d also want your clients to spread the word about your business. While a very good product or service can get the ball rolling, it’s not always enough to achieve the other two things that you should aim for.
Also, sometimes, consumers may not necessarily have the same opinions as yours when it comes to the definition of a well-crafted product or service. One good example is the instance where Harvard Business School faculty member Sunil Gupta’s story about how senior executives responded to his question of how they would reimagine the gas station.
The execs answered that they’ll add more value to the visit of the customers by putting up a coffee shop or making them drop-off points for e-retail sites like Amazon. While these are great ideas, they’re expanding away from the core offering of the business. They’re enriching it in another way but are not necessarily making the actual service more convenient for consumers.
This is where Gupta elaborated on the reason why people go to gas stations: to get fuel for their cars. Adding a coffee shop or making the station a convenient return drop-off for parcels has nothing to do with refueling. Then he proceeded to talk about how new players are disrupting the scene by bringing the fuel to consumers.
By turning the tables and providing on-demand gas delivery services, they are providing a whole different way of catering to the consumers’ needs. As everyone who owns a motorized vehicle needs gas, and deliveries are always convenient for the general public, it’s one way to address their target market’s demands. With everything getting delivered straight to people’s doors nowadays, this is definitely a service that will appeal to many.
How To Become a Customer-Centric Organization
Not sure if your enterprise is as customer-centric as you’d want it to be? Here are a few things that should help you calibrate your operations, products, and services into something that’s more focused on the customers’ experience:
Understand the needs of your target market
Creating a feasibility study is a necessary step in crafting a good product and business, in general. However, not everyone makes it as comprehensive as it can be. It’s one thing to know what your customers need but there are specific details that you might also want to look into to provide a more comprehensive and effective solution.
Another excellent example here is Rivigo, a logistics service provider in India. They addressed the trucking industry’s problem of shortage in manpower. Truck drivers are very low in numbers in the country as they tend to develop bad habits while on the job leading them to become shunned. So despite the high unemployment rates and good pay for the job, families do not want their sons to become truck drivers out of fear of being discriminated against.
This detail about why there are few truck drivers in India is hard to learn about through quantitative analyses and consulting approach to research. Only through an ethnographic exploration will such details be uncovered so that’s what Rivigo did.
But, of course, aside from learning what the root of the problem is, they also devised ways to address it completely. Their solution: to make sure that the truck drivers are not kept away from their families for long periods of time. By creating pit stops four hours away from each other, drivers can still go home after 8 hours of driving. They’d take one truck to a pit stop, pass it on to someone else, then take another truck back to where they were from.
The idea may seem complicated but with the help of technology, it has proven to be highly effective and even boosted the efficiency of the trucking services. Before the venture was established, trucks can only move for 10 to 12 hours per day so drivers can still have time to sleep and eat. Through this relay method, trucks can be moved for up to 20 hours a day, speeding up the process significantly.
Pinpoint where your consumers struggle in your processes
To truly put your customers at the core of your business, you should make your transactions with them as pain-free as possible. For brick and mortar stores, one important thing to address is the organization of the items inside the store. Customers will always struggle to find the very item they need. Not all of them will ask for assistance, so having more staff members on the floor wouldn’t cut it. Some stores found their way around this challenge by placing tablets in various parts of the store to serve as directories.
Payments are also common pain points for all kinds of businesses. Spending too much time waiting just to pay for something isn’t what buyers want to do, especially since they’ll already give you their money. This is why self-checkouts in stores are becoming popular additions and third-party service providers that can process as many different payment forms as possible are also being added to websites.
Focus on Your Customers, Not Just on Your Products
The key takeaway if you truly want to satisfy your customers is to look beyond your services and products. Carefully think about the challenges that your clients can face when transacting with you so you can address every detail.