More and more organisations are transforming their business logic towards customer-centricity. However, there are still many companies that want to embrace the process, but don't know how to do so. We present the top 10 habits of customer-centric companies according to Gartner.
In our previous article 'Customer-centricity: What is customer-centric,' we explored the basics of customer-centricity and discussed the benefits of this philosophical and business approach.
In this regard, not only did we note that customer-centric companies are 61% more profitable, but also that 58% of company directors believe that customer-centricity is the most important aspect of digital culture. Similarly, we also saw that even customers are in favour of customer-centricity, with 86% saying that personalisation has an impact on their purchase.
These statistics, however, clash with another reality that tells a slightly different story. Despite customer-centricity being a trend, according to MarketingProfs most companies fail to implement it succesfully.
This time we focus on the practical side of the customer-centric perspective and review what, according to Gartner, are the 10 habits of all customer-centric companies or, in other words, what an organisation must definitely do to be customer-centric.
Main challenges for customer-centric companies
On the above-mentioned research, companies that claimed to have been unable to implement a customer-centric culture despite having tried, were asked about the reasons that led them to fail. The answers of the company representatives were surprising. According to them, the main challenges for a company that wants to be customer-centric are:
- (52%) Functional silos prevent sharing customer data.
Ciertamente, la fragmentación de los datos de los clientes en silos fragmentados es uno de los principales impedimentos a la hora de construir perfiles de cliente. Sin embargo, este problema tiene fácil solución. Te la contamos aquí: 'El valor del repositorio de datos de cliente único para las empresas con e-commerce'.
Certainly, the segregation of customer data into fragmented silos is one of the main impediments for building customer profiles. However, this problem has an easy solution. We explain it here: 'What Can a Single Customer View Do for E-Commerce Companies?'.
- (39%) Business culture is not aligned with customer needs.
One of the most complex parts of the transformation to customer-centricity is adapting the company's culture. Being customer-centric has much more to do with culture than with technology or data. However, many managers are either reluctant to give importance to the less tangible side of customer-centricity or unwilling to establish the necessary cultural changes.
- (35%) Not having the necessary data management technologies.
Not all companies possess data management technologies, tools or software. However, establishing a customer-centric culture does not require large technology deployments and the investments needed are less than executives think.
Would you like to know what you need to become customer-centric?
- (31%) There is no single or common definition of customer-centricity.
Customer-centricity involves many dimensions, which can be confusing and bewildering for business people.
- (28%) Companies are not prepared to handle customer's problems.
Focusing on the customers means being concerned, analysing and trying to solve their problems. However, at the beginning of the process it is common that many organisations do not know how to do it, do not have the necessary skills or do not dare to take the leap.
- (28%) Limited experience in data analytics.
Apart from large corporations and tech companies, most organisations do not have data analysis experts on staff. In these cases, it is advisable to turn to external specialised consultants.
- (28%) The organisation cares more about sales than customers.
Concentrating efforts on selling may provide short-term benefits. Nevertheless, putting the emphasis on the customer and on satisfying and building meaningful relationships with them is much more profitable in the long run.
Why do companies want to be customer-centric?
Gartner recently published a research that predicted that by 2020 poor customer experiences would destroy 30% of digital business projects.
Olive Huang, research director at Gartner, explained: "Business results depend on the brand's ability to retain and acquire customers [...] Companies must leverage every interaction with the customer, whether it's a marketing campaign, a call to customer service, an invoice or a delivery that depends on the supply chain. Each department must play its part in a coordinated way."
The research also reinforced what many had already feared: customers are becoming more demanding, have more options and are more willing to switch companies. In this regard, Huang noted: "Customers are less likely to trust companies, expect to be listened to and engaged with, change preferences quickly and are looking for brands that offer authentic and transparent experiences."
Top 10 habits of customer-centric companies according to Gartner
In that research Gartner also listed the 10 habits that all customer-centric companies comply with. Let's take a look at them.
1. Listening to customers actively
Listening to consumers is essential for any company that wants to put the customer at the centre of the organisation. Not just any old way. Active listening consists of listening with the intention of gathering knowledge and identifying insights as well as responding to the comment, complaint or assessment with an action aimed at resolving it.
2. Constant monitoring of customers' feedback
Consumers' habits and behaviour are constantly changing. Conducting a market research once a year is no longer enough. It is now necessary to constantly monitor, listen and respond to the voice of the customer.
3. Acting proactively to anticipate customer needs
Besides responding to direct warnings from consumers, it is recommended to anticipate future demands and problems in order to reduce errors, drive change and avoid problems before they happen. In this sense, predictive analytics and forecasting are very useful and allow companies to provide better customer experiences and reduce risks.
4. Building customer empathy into processes and policies
Empathising with the customer is the basis of customer-centricity. Empathy understood as the eagerness to understand the difficulties, dreams, aspirations and needs of customers and strive to respond accordingly
5. Respecting customer privacy
Big Data and the massive gathering of data by companies continue to increase social awareness of privacy in the digital environment. Nowadays, it is essential to inform customers about the company's privacy policies and the use and processing of their data, as well as to give them options to decide what the company can do with them.
6. Sharing knowledge with the customer
In the present digital context, quality content and useful information are much more productive than direct advertising. Consumers positively value the generation of knowledge and those companies that provide them with value through their content.
7. Motivating employees to stay engaged
For a company to be truly customer-centric it is necessary that this philosophy is present in every area of the company. It must be clear to all employees that the customer is the priority and that they must act accordingly. In this regard, it is essential to motivate employees to make an effort to offer value to the customer. If our employees are not committed, the company will never be customer-centric.
8. Act systematically to improve the customer experience
Customer experience is one of the most important aspects of customer loyalty. Consumers now consider the quality of a product or service to be just as important as the quality of their experience when purchasing it.
9. Creating accountability to enhance the customer experience
Caring for our customers' experience is or should be an act of responsibility. Accepting our weaknesses, identifying areas for improvement and striving to optimise them and provide the best possible customer experience is the priority of any customer-centric company.
10. Adapting to customer demands and circumstances in real time
Digital immediacy makes it necessary for companies to adapt to social circumstances and customer demands in near real time. Increasingly demanding customers no longer want to wait days to be answered. Quick responses and responsiveness are one of the keys to delivering satisfactory customer experiences.
It is clear, then, that customer-centricity is becoming increasingly important in the business world. However, organisations that want to embark on this journey are encountering more obstacles than they imagined, because becoming a customer-centric company involves big changes.
Is your company customer-centric? Do you want it to be?