What Does Customer-Centricity Even Mean?
Like people, a lot of businesses like to think that by saying that they have certain traits, then they automatically have those certain traits. Take being customer-centric, for example. Just because a business declares that they are customer-centric and therefore always put their customers first, does that make it true? Not so much, no.
As stated above, being truly customer-centric requires always putting customers at the center of the business. This means every business decision, no matter how big or how small, must be seen through the lens of how it will affect customers. Product updates, subscription alterations, rebrands, and so on, all need to be performed and conceptualized with customers at the center. This practice is the blood and bones of what customer-centricity means.
That said, an experience centered on customers can often be misconstrued as something warped or altogether different, especially when it comes to customer-centricity for B2B businesses.
Customer-Centricity is Not Transactional
It’s antithetical to the very premise of customer-centricity that it should be a special service or cost more. There really just cannot be a hierarchy of customer-centric practices, no matter how appealing a pyramidal image of customer needs may be. Being customer-centric means a dedication to all customers, not just the big ones.
Pyramids are for Pharaohs, not for customers' needs.
Ultimately, businesses will naturally weigh their largest customers’ opinions higher, but it is the duty of a customer-centric business to always strive to equalize. Businesses should not provide customer-centric practices and products to their customers with the expectation of reward, at least certainly not directly.
The reward is more implicit but just as real – dedication to customer-centric service leads to higher customer retention and increased revenue.
A Business Can’t Be Reactive and Customer-Centric
If a business is only being so-called customer-centric when customers have a problem, then that’s not being customer-centric, not even close. Customer support can be reactive and still be good (maybe not great though) but it cannot place customers at the center in that way, they just can’t exist in the same place at the same time. Much like two Marty McFly’s, it’s a paradox.
A customer-centric business needs to be there for its customers when they need assistance, but they also need to be there before they need assistance. Sound cryptic or like Minority Report? Precognition isn’t needed for a business practice centered on customers, though. A customer-centric approach essentially means that a business is working hand-in-hand with customers to ensure they reach their goals. If they are working together, Support and Success professionals will see the forest before the trees, and help their customers navigate potential problems ahead of time.
Though of course a certain degree of using the right tool is necessary. Imagine if the Titanic crew had a software tool that alerted them to an upcoming iceberg, provided a few separate course correction options, and then a team of professionals parachuted onto the ocean liner and assisted the crew in executing the naval maneuver – that’s customer-centricity.
So What is Customer-Centricity Really?
Customer-centricity is tying business success to customer success and working to ensure that they attain their goals with the business’ provided products and services. It means that customers are always the heart and soul of business decisions, and the first question is always, “how will this affect our customers?”
Being customer-centric also provides a unique list of rewards, such as better customer retention and relationships and new expansion and cross-sell opportunities. Ultimately what’s best for customers is what’s best for the business, and with a truly customer-centric ethos, the opposite is also true.