Many of you know that it is vital to continuously improve your customer centricity. You must put the customer clearly at the heart of your business in everything you do. But that’s easier said than done, because your customers are constantly changing.
I think that’s why many businesses struggle to improve their customer centricity, because they don’t know where to start. Am I right? If so, then this article is especially for you.
This week I want to share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to improved customer centricity.
#1 Review the description of your target audience
Let’s start at the very beginning – with the customer of course!
Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to refer to these as personas or avatars. Whatever you call yours, they should be precise, detailed and ideally visual as well.
If you haven’t yet developed your persona, or you know it is not as complete as it could be, why not use our new C3Centricity 4W™ Persona Template? Complete the who, what, where and why for each of your brands and finally understand who you are aiming to attract.
I suggest you also complete one for your company if it appears predominantly on your packaging or communications. I did this for a client and found that some of their brands were positioning themselves in opposition to their company image. As you can imagine, this was getting them nowhere and in fact damaging both their brand and their company image!
Include in your own persona template not only demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where your customers do these things, what values they have that you can tap into, and what emotions motivate them to use your brand.
If your current persona doesn’t include all this information, it is probably time to update it – and why not with our 4W™ template?
#2 Optimise how you connect with your customers
Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect? You should after completing your updated persona template.
Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it a one-way or two-way discussion? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?
Obviously the second communication style is what you should be aiming for. You can learn far more about your customers when they are ready to share their information with you. And that comes when they trust you to keep their data safe and know that you only collect what you need to give them a superior experience. Make sure that’s what you are doing.
#3 Identify the needs your brand is addressing
Do you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?
They certainly have several needs, but you should be aiming to address only one of their needs.
If you attempt to address more than one need at the same time, and especially if they are not sequential, your customer will get confused as to what solution you are helping them solve. Clarity is definitely the name of the game when it comes to brand positioning.
Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for your customer, will leave them perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can offer a real solution.
Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying groups and cultures with similar levels of a specific need.
#4 Make your customers everyone’s responsibility
Who in your organisation is thinking about your customers? Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments? Perhaps you think it’s only for the customer service employees or merchandisers and promoters to do.
It should, in fact, be on everyone’s annual objectives. Each employee should get the chance to watch, listen and engage with your customers on a regular basis. This will help them to understand how their work fits into the company’s overall objective to not only satisfy but to delight customers too.
Every employee has a role to play in customer centricity and connecting with the customers on a frequent basis and sharing experiences across departments will ensure that they understand this.
That said, I do have one suggestion before allowing everyone to go out and watch / listen to customers. It is to ensure that they get a detailed brief of the do’s and don’ts of customer interaction. Read more about these in our top rated article “The 5 Essential Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Business Success.”
#5 Plan for the unthinkable
We have all had a lot of new experiences in the past few years: the covid pandemic, the war in Europe, dramatic climate changes to name just a few. So how has your business coped? Many companies have gone out of business because they never prepared for such events.
Now while many of recent events were unthinkable, and accepting that it’s impossible to prepare for any and every situation, thinking about the impossible can make your business more resilient.
So how have you prepared your business and protected its planned expansion? Do you know how future events may impact it and what you would do in each situation? How would you react to new laws, new customer demands, or their new sensitivities such as ecology, sourcing of ingredients?
It is obviously far better to plan for such events before they happen, so that you can quickly react to challenges as well as opportunities. That’s why I am such a big fan of plausible future scenario planning. By thinking the unthinkable, even if they never happen, you will have thought through your responses and actions which will certainly be useful to cope with future events that do occur.
#6 Review how customer centric your plans are
Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans, as well as the customers of your major competitors? Do people know who they are targeting with each brand product and service offer? Obviously developing a persona is the most valuable first step, but there is more you can do.
Review your plans and consider how your customers will react to each of your planned actions; not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a true detailed analysis based upon your understanding of them and their desires.
Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them? Or are you relying on the “same old” activities, copy / pasted from last year? You’d be amazed how many marketing plans remain practically the same for years and years, with no thought given to improving them! Your customers are changing so your plans need to reflect this.
You see, people today get bored very quickly and expect better than they were previously offered in most things – communications, promotions, products and services.
Also, if you’re not careful you can actually “train” your customers to anticipate your actions. This results in a declining interest in what you are offering and even a change in habits when yours become too predictable. Many categories have witnessed customers planning to only purchase brands when they are on promotion, as a result of too frequent and regular or seasonal discounts their customers have come to expect.
That’s why you must plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year, so your customers remain surprised and delighted.
#7 Expand your thinking about innovation
Just as I encourage you to rethink your tactics and actions, I also want you to rethink how you innovate.
Are you blocked in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical expertise and skills? If you understand your customers well, you can offer them new products and services that will be more successful, because you know what will surprise and delight them, what their needs and desires really are.
For example why not innovate by adding sensorial experiences to the brands you already offer? This will distinguish them from the competition and give an additional reason for your customers to buy. Consider adding sound to taste, colour to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays.
With the decline in differentiation today, give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become loyal advocates.
To find more ideas about improving your innovation read “The Best Ways To Improve Innovation With Better Ideation & Insights.”
#8 Stop testing your communications to death
If you regularly run copy-testing and communications analyses, I can feel your shock as you read this suggestion! But why not review the process you use to develop your advertising? I bet you are running on habit rather than thoughtful advertising development. Am I right?
If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customers, and then tested early stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners.
This process would also reduce or totally replace your usual last-minute tests just before airing them, when in most cases it is already too late to change anything. You are then forced to launch what you know to be inferior communications and relaunch the improved version at a later date. I am sure you have noticed this from other brands, no? Customers notice this too.
#9 Define your image
Your brand has an image but it might not be what you think it is!
Make sure you are measuring each of your brand’s images at least annually and not only on the attributes that you want to perform well on.
Review and update the attributes you use to measure the perceptions of your category and ensure you rate what is (also) important to your customers, not just to you.
Attributes that cover both your competitors’ strengths and the total category will provide a much more thorough understanding of your own image, its strengths and opportunities for improvement. You might even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying!
#10 Update your KPI’s
You know that well-used phrase “what gets measured gets managed” Well, are you measuring what needs managing or only the metrics that you can easily gather?
If you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare this data to where you want to take your brand, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.
Far too many organisations run their business using financial and sales-based metrics, which gives an incomplete view of the company. Add customer metrics too, such as communications, engagement, product ratings, and you will get a near 360 degree view of where you are today. Then you’ll be ready to take actions that will have the most impact.
I hope this list has helped you to define a few areas that need revision in your organisation. Even actioning just one of them will improve your customer centricity. Of course completing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the heart of your business, as well as in the hearts of all your employees.
If you would like to know just how customer centric you are today, why not complete the C3C Evaluator™ assessment tool? It will help you to identify where you are today, as well as how to prioritise any needed changes in your organisation, to get you to where you want to be.
If you’d like some help or further ideas about making your organisation more customer centric, please contact us here: