A customer centric business is one in which every decision (regarding products/services) is made to best serve the interests of the customer, while he is actually being made to feel empowered. It is in this kind of business empowered customers are created.
In this time and age of endless innovation and competition, it is now increasingly important that every entrepreneur and marketer focus more on building a customer centric business. When we say a business is customer centric, we are simply saying that the business is customer focussed – from the point of idea conception till the day the product hits the market. Unfortunately many businesspeople start really focussing on the customer after the goods have hit the shelves.
In today’s post, I am going to share with you 9 building blocks we have used meticulously to create customer centric businesses and cultures for our clients.
Proper Customer Analysis
Who is your customer? Seriously who is it? What is he doing right now? What is she eating right now? What pain is he experiencing right now? Can you see how I have deliberately avoided the use of “they” in those questions? The ability to describe who that one customer is makes all the difference.
Imagine the earth and other planetary bodies. Imagine how they all revolve around the sun. The sun determines when they have their day and when they have their nights. The sun determines how hot they are. The sun determines if they will be able to support life in them or otherwise. The customer is the sun. The business must be as customer centric as the universe is sun-centric. Being able to recognise your ideal customer like this is paramount to building a customer centric business.
Customer Centric Distribution
A thorough analysis of who the target customer of a business is will also help when its time to plan and execute distribution. This is so important that if not handled well, will short-circuit the plan for building a customer centric business. In the last quarter of 2015, a new Cola product took the market by storm. Its called BIG Cola. You could see them being sold in many bus stops in Lagos. While the already existing Cola products – Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola – were 50cl, BIG Cola launched with about 60cl. The direct sellers at the bus stops liked that and sold almost only the product. I remember telling anyone who cared to listen that if size is the only strategy these guys have, they won’t beat those already in the market.
Soon, Pepsi introduced the “long-throat” bottle matching the quantity. They used a kick-ass commercial featuring popular Nigerian music artistes, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Seyi Shay to drive the message home. Billboards, buses, TV adverts were used to portray the new “Big” Pepsi Cola.
Coca-Cola threw a double sucker punch by re-launching their “Share a Coke with …. (Your Name)” campaign and thereafter, introduced a bigger bottle.
So, quantity was no longer something the BIG guys could use against the old cola guys. But there is something the old guys are using and keep using to choke the new guys. It is distribution. As a matter of fact, I believe Coca-Cola is winning in the territories they are winning in because of their customer centric distribution model. When you decide who your customer is, get the product to him so he can reach for it whenever he wants to!!!
Serving Accidental Customers versus Conscious Customers
To take customer centricity to another level, certain businesses are now creating “memberships”. The customer gets to pay a certain amount upfront and then enjoys the service at either a highly discounted rate or for free. I like the membership idea because the entrepreneur or businessperson gets to maintain a relationship with the customer and keeps learning how to keep serving them better. Predictability is also very possible here.
In that way, anyone who is not yet subscribed as a member is seen as an “accidental customer” until they make a commitment to become a member. Or until they subscribe for a long-term plan. Look at it this way. Do you take a rental car to the mechanic to get it serviced?
So, let your customers be well defined, then find a way of bringing them closer by creating some form of membership or exclusivity for them. Their consequent feedback will be a major tool in your quest to build a customer centric business.
Customer Centric Campaigns
A customer centric business will design campaigns that appeal to that customer. Trying to reach everyone will result in not reaching anyone at all. Many campaigns today are product driven and not customer driven. They show how fantastic the product is and not how fantastic the customer is or will be after using the product/service. Sometimes you see the campaign of a product designed for average income earners featuring characters who are flying personal private jets and limousine rides.
It is better to design a campaign that shows the customer that you “get” him.
Customer Centric Staff
A customer centric staff is one who understands and is working with the laws of legendary service. This staff is the one who is willing to go out of their way for the customer. This staff is always communicating with the customer. Imagine a massage therapist who gives you a 60 minute massage without saying a single word to you. Imagine another one who gives you a massage and at every 20 minutes or so interval, asks you if the pressure they are using is okay, if you are comfortable, and so on. Which of them do you think will do a better job? The second one! Why? Because the more you communicate with the customer, the better you become at serving them.
Customer Centric CSR
Every business ought to give back every now and then. But when it is time to give back, a customer centric business will give to the communities in which they have high customer densities. In that way, the customer who has been buying from you and has been helping you make money is able to enjoy the freebies you are bringing to their community. If it is a bus stop, let them enjoy it. If it is a zebra crossing, your customers should benefit from it.
What the market wants versus what your customer needs
A customer centric business is not confused about what their customers want. And once they get to know what the customer want, they will do everything within their power to continue serving that customer. A change in approach should now be based on what that ideal customer want to change. Not what the general public (or market) says. Your ideal customers make up your own clan (or niche if that is the word you prefer). You therefore cannot please everyone. Just about one decade plus ago, Peak Milk was arguably the only premium liquid milk in the market. When Cowbell milk wanted to launch, they left the Peak Milk’s clan alone. They created little sachets of powder milk and sold it cheap to poor and average people. Their revenue soared year after year.
That was just too juicy for Peak to ignore. They reacted by introducing sachet liquid milk and thereafter introducing purely powder milk sachets. As far as I’m concerned, that was a bad move. Because they still can’t match the cowbell price per sachet. Now, they are just one of the milks in the market. They should have behaved like Rolls Royce and remain premium.
Customer driven innovation
Innovation is good. But you can so innovate to the point where what you now offer customer is far from what the customers fell in love with. Innovations should never be fancy or genius driven. If you are interested in building a customer centric business, innovation must be customer driven. In other words, let the customer be the one to determine if there is need for innovation or not. Or at least, let them be a part of the innovation.
For example, do you know that I prefer the back view of SUVs made between 2006 and 2010 to the most recent ones? Many of my friends are on the same page with me on this one. I still wonder why almost every SUV manufacturer is redesigning the back of their cars to look like that.
Customer Centric Price
Who is your ideal customer? At what rate can he buy from you? Once you get that right, keep it so for as long as possible. Then serve the customers that come along. The right pricing strategy will help you to attract the right customers.
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