What’s in this article:
- At its core, customer-centrism is a relationship-building strategy, and brands should treat it as such
- By removing the obstacles to your customer-centric goals, you’ll show more robust results in the form of stronger customer relationships
Is your brand customer-centric? How would you know if it wasn’t? Sometimes it seems every business wants to be customer-centric, but no one is quite sure how to achieve it. That’s because creating a genuinely customer-driven work culture requires structural changes that few organizations consider to be necessary. But with studies suggesting that 25% of customers are willing to research competitors after a single mistake, few brands can take the risk any longer.
The good news is most businesses face the same universal challenges when implementing a customer-centric marketing strategy. By understanding these obstacles, it’s far easier to overcome them.
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Overlooking quantitative bias
The most successful marketers in 2020 are those with data at their disposal, often segmented by customer persona. What we often forget, unfortunately, is that data alone is not enough. By spending too much time focusing on quantitative data, it’s easy to overlook qualitative insights — especially if those insights seem to come from small customer groups.
Modern businesses frequently fall victim to a quantitative bias fallacy. When this occurs, they rely on high volumes of quantitative data sets at the expense of everything else. What’s interesting about this trend, as noted by Tim Leberecht, is that it’s driven by fear that limited sample sizes will distort the larger picture.
Here’s the thing: Having all the quantitative data in the world will not make you closer to customers. As economist Sir Paul Collier noted, an increasingly complex world is less and less codifiable. Instead of pursuing these big pictures, we need to consider qualitative insights or “thick data” that complements big data. Information from small but dedicated customer segments has a great deal to tell us, and even consumer anecdotes might reveal something you’d missed.
At the end of the day, companies using big and thick data in conjunction — Apple being a prime example — tend to be the greatest success stories. No one wants to miss the forest for the trees, but make sure you don’t miss the trees for the forest.
Siloing your departments
Any customer-centric strategy you adopt will only be successful if it follows customers from department to department. If an individual has a positive sales experience followed immediately by a terrible support experience, the latter example will inform what they think of the entire business. This challenge is why customer-centric brands chart client experience from the initial marketing funnel to well after a closed sale — it’s the best way to optimize each contact point.
While most team leaders understand this point in theory, in practice, customer-centrism becomes challenging once organizations reach a given size. At this point, brands start siloing departments to maintain a certain level of operational efficiency, which has the side effect of fracturing the customer experience. In the best-case scenario, communication relating to acquiring or retaining customers may start to break down. At worst, departments begin to compete for budgets or targets instead of sharing insights.
Customer-centrism is not something that can be accomplished by one department — it occurs as part of a broader ecosystem. Each team must be able to share insights and data within the org. This dynamic is particularly relevant when businesses interact with customers in an omnichannel environment with multiple, complementary touchpoints. While establishing these connections requires some coordination, the results can benefit all departments.
Failing to listen to clients
While every business is trying to sell products and services to customers, that doesn’t mean customer-centricity is the same thing as product-centricity. If your focus is on closing deals, that’s what will define your interactions with the consumer, for better or for worse. The downside is that your customer experience represents a great deal more than a core product — it’s a relationship. If you treat that connection as transactional, customers will respond in kind.
At its core, customer-centrism is a relationship-building strategy, and brands should treat it as such. People in a romance, for example, often aren’t seeking a particular outcome. As noted by João Sevilhano, they get to know each other, share interests and vulnerabilities, and slowly develop a customized plan for the future. Businesses can do the same thing if they start treating customer experiences as a discussion instead of a product delivery system.
Much like a relationship, the key to success is often listening — but not outcome-based listening where you match what customers say to the type of product. MIT lecturer C. Otto Scharmer defined four different modes of listening that can apply to businesses:
- Downloading: Listening that reconfirms existing judgments.
- Factual: Paying attention to facts and data without judgment, focusing on what differs from existing knowledge.
- Empathic: Listening to understand a situation from someone else’s perspective.
- Generative: Listening that goes beyond words to grasp systemic issues.
In terms of customer service, empathic and generative listening goes far beyond downloading or even factual. It requires employees to be engaged with customer outcomes while maintaining a qualitative understanding of their needs. What’s more, the entire organization needs to support a qualitative understanding of the customer’s needs,
Making changes to an organizational structure is far harder than pitching a new marketing strategy, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. By removing the obstacles to your customer-centric goals, you’ll show more robust results in the form of stronger customer relationships. At the end of the day, that makes a world of difference to your customers and your bottom line.
The post What’s Stopping Your Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy from Succeeding? appeared first on Post Funnel.
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