At the very start of his presentation, “7 Commitments of Customer-Centric Companies,” Jay Baer hits the audience with a powerful statistic:
“By 2020, a majority of buying decisions will be based on customer experience.”
Creating a positive experience for customers isn’t just important — it’s crucial to a business’s survival and growth.
Baer is a prominent business advisor, best-selling author, and founder of the digital strategy consulting firm Convince & Convert, and he likes to point out that customer expectations for their interactions with businesses only continue to rise.
What does it mean for a company to be truly “customer centric,” and what are Baer’s top tips to instill a customer-centric mindset into the DNA of your company?
What is a Customer-Centric Company?
It isn’t exactly rocket science to realize that happy customers buy more products, buy more often, and tell their friends about the companies they love. Creating a positive customer experience has been a primary objective of any serious company. However, the rise of big data has also spurred a new focus on customer centricity.
This term can seem a little fluffy, but it essentially means using data and feedback to continually improve every aspect of a customer’s experience with your company.
It seems like a big ask, but today’s technological solutions make it possible for companies to gather a significant amount of data on their customers, effectively curate that data, and utilize the data to create personalized customer experiences.
Are you ready to shift your company into a customer-centric mindset? Then start with these five tips taken from Baer’s presentation “7 Commitments of Customer-Centric Companies.”
1. Give Your Customers a Response Now
Long gone are the days when you could turn off the lights at the end of the business day and wait until the next day (or Monday) to answer customer questions and resolve issues. These days, customers expect near-instantaneous responses. Baer tells his audience, “We must operate at the speed of now.”
Consider implementing measures that help you provide customers with immediate responses and feedback. For example, assign a social media team to respond to questions on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks. If your team doesn’t respond right away, you risk that customer checking in with your competitor instead.
2. Communicate with Your Customers on Their Preferred Channels
As technology changes, so does the way people communicate, especially with younger generations who use more methods to communicate than their grandparents could ever have dreamed of. Baer points out that “what’s convenient and efficient for the business may not be convenient and efficient for the customer.”
For example, today’s consumers may prefer to text customer support or communicate problems through social media networks such as Twitter. By meeting them on the platforms they prefer, you’ll create a better overall experience for your customers.
3. Get on Board with Asynchronous Messaging
This customer-centric point directly connects with meeting your customers where they are. Whereas previous generations may have preferred to pick up the phone to speak with a representative, today’s customers (especially younger generations) show a clear preference for asynchronous messaging. This means they often feel more comfortable texting or messaging with company representatives to ask questions and solve issues.
If you’ve met a teenager, then you know that the last way they usually use their phone… is as a phone. Give your customers the communication channels they prefer, even if it initially seems a little unusual.
4. Give Your Customers a Chance to Help Themselves
This may sound a little counterintuitive, but some customers prefer to work through issues on their own when possible, rather than reach out for help. This is especially true if it means they can avoid sitting on hold or trying to get a chat bot to understand their query. Give your customers as many ways as possible to solve their problems on their own. Consider offering video tutorials on your website, writing a robust FAQ page, and hosting a knowledge centre.
5. Personalize Your Customers’ Experience
Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 company, your company has an unprecedented ability to gather information about your customers and the customer journey they take with your business. However, this information is only useful if you actually use it. The beauty of all this available data is that it can help you create a more personalized experience for each of your customers.
This goes far beyond just using your customer’s first name in an email. It means recognizing their core motivations and desires and providing them with the products and services they need right now. In fact, Baer is fond of saying that the biggest lie marketers tell themselves is that their customers are too busy to open emails or engage with a company. In reality, customers may ignore a company’s emails and other messages because the strategies and messaging that company uses aren’t relevant to the customer.
Change Your Mindset
No company can change the way their marketing, sales, customer service, and other departments operate overnight, but your leadership can make the decision to adopt a customer-centric mindset. That simple shift in perspective can fundamentally change how you reach out to, communicate with, and interact with your customers. It will also likely lead to bigger profits. Baer cites a study from Avanade and Sitecore: They found that for every dollar a company invested in developing a customer experience strategy, they were likely to receive a $3 return.
Great customer service and an excellent customer experience both lead to higher loyalty, more return customers, and a bigger profit. It’s time to use all the tools at your disposal, including the seven commitments that customer-centric companies make that are outlined in Baer’s full presentation, to swiftly move to a customer-centric business model.