Top Posts of 2023 on Customer Centricity

Here at C3Centricity, we publish books (Winning Customer Centricity), articles and training on customer centricity, because we’re passionate about helping companies to successfully adopt a customer-first strategy.

Since we founded C3Centricity in early 2011, one of our traditions has been to share the most popular posts on customer experience at the beginning of each new year. 

This past year has been particularly successful for C3Centricity, with many of our newest posts getting the top scores globally! This is quite tough for a blog that has been running for almost 13 years and highlights the quality of the content we share with you each month.

Of course, there are also a few perennials that have been appearing in our top 10 list for years, like insight development and customer observation. Since no brand is successful without a foundational insight, and customer understanding is its major essential element, these two will always be popular – they also are on Google’s first page, which certainly helps and confirms the quality of their content.

So let’s have a look at the Top 10 list in 2023, and see if your own favourites are there. If not, then please let us know in the comments. Thanks.  

#1. Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost Your Insight Development

Boost your insight developmentThis post regularly appears in the top three posts on C3Centricity. This shows the quality of its recommendations and content. And the importance of business insights. 

Ever wondered why you struggle to develop actionable insights? This post shares some of the main reasons why even large companies sometimes fail at this essential art. Then, it offers some suggested solutions to help you.

Insights are the foundation on which every single successful brand is built. If your brands are lacking strong positive growth, they are probably missing that insight that will make them powerhouses.

So it is vital that you learn how to develop them and then how to action them in your communications and innovation. Again, if you struggle to action your insights, you’re most certainly missing one of the steps covered in this post.

To stimulate your thinking, the article includes many real-world examples of how great insights can be turned into powerful ad campaigns that connect with customers and motivate them to buy.

If you’re ready to finally learn how to develop actionable business insights, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

#2. Five Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Success

Measure your company image

This post has also been among the top articles on C3Centricity for many years. It is a cornerstone post that is regularly updated to remain highly relevant in today’s marketplace.

Its popularity clearly shows the need we all have to understand how to get up close and personal with our customers – the right way.

The five rules it includes are easy to follow and will make every occasion to watch and listen to your customers so much more interesting and valuable.

And if you want to learn how to watch

Click to continue reading

7 Secrets to Business Growth from Leading Global Brands

Whenever several people ask me to share my strategies for achieving business growth, it indicates that something significant is happening in the marketplace.

This is precisely what happened to me a few months ago. No less than two of my current clients and four new companies have asked me for support in growing their businesses in just the past month! In particular, they have all said that one or more of their brands is stable (to be polite) and that they want to reverse their (negative) trend.

Is this your situation, too? Did you also struggle to achieve growth this year? If so, I have a useful 7-step process that will bring you rapid change in 2024. (although if I were one of the self-proclaimed “gurus” we all see on social media these days, I probably would guarantee you results in days or weeks, shouldn’t I?!!)

I believe that one of the major issues in marketing these days is that companies are following an incomplete, outdated CX (customer experience) model.

 

The Need for a New CX Model

The CX Index states that 90% of businesses, regardless of the vertical they are operating in, have made CX their primary focus. And research by Gartner concluded that 80% of organizations expect to compete mainly based on CX.

This should be good news for customers, but there’s a problem.

Most discussions about customer experience only consider the interaction between the customer and the company. As a result, most effort goes into improving customer service departments and call centres.

Since these departments tend to be either smaller or even outsourced, their changes have little impact on how a business works. They are also of little interest to top management.

The customer journey is seen as linear and only impacts different departments at distinct points in time. Even if their emotions are considered at each touchpoint, which is already an improvement, it remains static.

In addition, information about the customer may be gathered, but it is rarely shared, let alone integrated, for deeper knowledge and understanding.

This has resulted in individual actions being taken without a holistic view of the customer or their experience. That is why so few succeed.

 

Quantum Customer CentricityQuantum Customer Centricity (QC2) takes a multi-dimensional view of the four moving parts of a customer-first strategy. It boosts business by leveraging your strengths while identifying the biggest opportunities for growth. It finds the small, key changes that will maximise your company’s benefit.

And these smaller atomic transformations are far more likely to succeed than larger ones.

QC2 is a breakthrough approach that integrates rather than replaces what you are already doing well, so progress is made faster and usually also considerably cheaper.

It creates greater agility, delivering more targeted and accelerated results than most of the traditional models typical to larger organizations.

If you’d like to learn more about QC² and what it can do for your business, you can download a free copy of the book “The Click to continue reading

7 Ways to Deliver Awesome Customer Service & Build Loyal Advocates

How can some companies deliver awesome customer service while others get it so totally wrong?!

I want to share a personal story of disinterested client support with you this week. From it, I have drawn seven learnings for everyone wanting to deliver awesome customer service and build loyal advocates.

Let me start by saying that it still puzzles me why any organisation would have trouble offering superior customer service when there are so many great examples they merely have to copy. (JetBlue, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Zappos) In fact, Mark Earls wrote a great book on exactly this topic, called Copy, Copy, Copy which I highly recommend.

This story is just one example of how some companies still struggle to accept that the customer is right, even when they’re wrong! Not that I was wrong in this case (at least I don’t think so, but I’ll let you be the judge of that).

However, the company concerned certainly gave me the impression that they believed I might have been trying to cheat them with the information I provided in my emails. They were never satisfied with what I sent, even when it was what THEY had specifically requested!

Perhaps they were just dragging out the process hoping not to have to “pay up”. You can see for yourself below, or just jump to the seven learnings at the end of the post so that you can avoid making the same mistakes yourself.

 

Background

Many years ago I bought a TomTom guidance system to help me navigate the streets of American cities.

I love to drive and feel just as much at home on a 26-lane Los Angeles highway as the two-lane Swiss autoroute system. (If you’re interested in which Californian road is 26 lanes wide, it’s the I-5/I-405 interchange.) However, after making many impromptu visits to unplanned US destinations I decided it was time to get a mobile GPS to use in my rental cars.

A few years on, I thought that it could also help me in Europe, even Switzerland, when trying to locate a new client or contact. (My car at the time was almost fifteen years old  and wasn’t equipped with a GPS!) I, therefore, added Europe to my online account, since my model couldn’t keep both in memory at the same time!

Last May I replaced the European maps with my American ones as I was visiting Florida that month. When I tried to reinstall the European maps in September, they had somehow disappeared from my account. I contacted TomTom customer service to ask how I could get my maps back and this is how our conversation went over the pursuing three months – with their worst English mistakes removed or corrected for better comprehension, but their own font bolding left in. (!)

 

The Exchange with TomTom

Me: Hi there, I contacted you in May about changing from European to US maps. I now want to change back and the maps are no longer Click to continue reading

Adopting a Customer First Strategy. Even the Police Can Get it Right!

In most countries, the population have a love / hate relationship with their police. You can imagine my surprise, therefore, to find myself writing about how they appear to be adopting a customer first strategy in Switzerland!

Let me explain. A few years ago they introduced a new-style speed radars in the villages around my home town. The elements are not that new per se, I know, but last week it suddenly hit me why these speed cameras seem to be so effective. It’s simple; they’re customer centric! The Swiss police have adopted a customer first strategy! And that’s why I want to share more about this story here.

 

Background

One of the reasons why the Police are disliked in many (dare I say most?) countries, is because of their insidious speed controls.

Whether they are permanent fixtures as on the right, or temporary ones, we all dislike the flash that tells us it’s too late, that we’ve been “caught.”

We then wait a few days, to weeks or even months, naively hoping that it wasn’t our car that was flashed. But eventually the letter arrives asking us to pay a fine.

I think the worst of them all are the laser guns that the Police have been using for many years now. We don’t even know we’ve been flashed until the communication arrives at our home! Or we are pulled up a few hundred meters down the road.

 

The relatively new types of radar that are being introduced in my home area don’t flash either. But that’s because we never get “caught” as such.

You see they measure our speed and give us immediate feedback. Take a look at the photo on the right; I’m sure you’ve seen such installations before in your own area.

Now if we make the assumption that all four types of equipment are to get road users to decrease their speed in critical areas – and not just to gather money as I’ve heard suggested – then the results must vary widely.

 

 

So let me share my thoughts from the perspective of a customer first strategy champion.

 

What This Has to Do with Your business

So why is this example relevant for you and your own customer first strategy? Well, ask yourself what you really want for your business? 

In the case of the police, I am assuming that they want to reduce the speed of drivers in certain areas and make the roads safer for everyone. In this case, the customer-centric approach, which has by far the most success at slowing drivers down to within the speed limit along a larger portion of the road, is the information panel. If that is their objective, then the Police in every country should adopt these new style radars.

But if those who consider speed checks to be a mere money-making operation are right, then the Police will continue to use one of their other options. And they must accept the … Click to continue reading

Are You Giving What Customers Want Today?

As a dedicated customer centricity champion, just like you, I spend a lot of my time researching what customers want, just like you do too, I hope. In this period of great global unrest, understanding our customers has become more important than ever before.

Just a few short months ago, I didn’t think that it would be possible for customer-centricity to become any more important. But things change and now everyone is fighting to keep their businesses afloat. So the new and constantly altering needs and desires of our customers should be a top priority for all of us to follow.

To help me keep abreast of the changes, I’m regularly checking online searches for such terms as customer service, customer satisfaction and customer care. Google and Bing have become some of my best friends!

A couple of years ago, I came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post when I first drafted it. But with the incredibly unforeseen events of the past few years, I feel it deserves a update.

Already at the time, my analysis suggested a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers. Today it is clear that any organisation that hasn’t spent time putting things right, will most certainly be suffering in this post-pandemic, global unrest in which companies are trying to do business. I’d be interested to hear your own thoughts once you have read the article.

 

Customer Centricity

Wikipedia, another of my faithful friends, doesn’t have a definition for customer centricity! If you look up the term, you get directed to customer satisfaction! Unbelievable.  Try it for yourself and see!

Gartner defines customer centricity as:

“The ability of people in an organisation to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations.”

It then goes on to say:

“Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

What I particularly like about this definition, is that it refers to customer understanding and the need for customers to be the focus of decision-making. It also highlights the need to create not just customer satisfaction, but loyalty and advocacy too.

Now whereas it seems to be difficult to build longterm loyalty these days, especially in B2C businesses, advocacy is essential in today’s connected world. Of course the latter means that customers are surprised and delighted rather than just satisfied, so that they are excited to share their positive experiences with others.


Need help in adopting a customer-first strategy?

Check out our Brand Accelerator™ Course in the C3Centricity Academy


Aim for Advocacy Rather than Loyalty

As we all know, it costs between 5 and 25 times more to acquire a new customer as it does to retain existing ones. (Invesp) Therefore strong loyalty is a valuable benefit for a brand. But covid saw us all changing our purchasing behaviours, as we researched, compared and then bought more online. So although loyalty is difficult, it … Click to continue reading

Technology is not a Disruptor, but a Powerful Customer-First Strategy is!

Technology is often seen by marketing as a disruptor of business as usual, but it isn’t. Technology is in fact an enabler, at least when used properly and appropriately. So what is disrupting business as usual? It’s the customer, especially in industries that are not customer-centric.

It was 

I had already been speaking about the need for businesses to prepare for the dramatic change that was coming thanks to technological innovation. However, it was Pacheco’s slide that made me realise why I was so keen on companies adopting a customer-first strategy and running scenario planning.

His five simple examples brought it home more powerfully than I have ever done before. That’s why I wanted to share it with you. The summary says:

  • Netflix did not kill Blockbuster, ridiculous late fees did.
  • Uber did not kill the taxi business, limited taxi access and fare control did.
  • Apple did not kill the music industry, being forced to buy full-length albums did.
  • Amazon did not kill other retailers, bad customer service did.
  • Airbnb isn’t killing the hotel industry, limited availability and pricing options are.

In conclusion it states that:

“Technology by itself is not the real disruptor. Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.”

That’s music to my ears!

[bctt tweet=””Technology by itself is not the real disruptor. Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.” #Quote #CustomerCentricity #CustomerFirst #CEX #CRM #CustomerSatisfaction” username=”Denysech”]

Looking again at the five examples he gives, there are a number of specific aspects of customer-centricity that are highlighted. In my opinion they show the following advantages for the customer:

  • freedom of choice
  • transparency
  • trust
  • being valued

If you don’t want to see your own industry fall victim to start-ups that better provide these, then now is the time to act. Or rather if you’re not already on your journey to adopting a customer-first strategy, you’re probably already seeing a slowing, if not actual decline, in your growth and profitability.

[bctt tweet=”If you don’t want to see your own industry fall victim to start-ups that better provide for customers, then now is the time to adopt a customer-first strategy. #startups #Business #Technology” username=””]

 

The Future of Many Industries is Unthinkable

By this I mean that change is happening so fast that it is difficult for organisations to even imagine the future. This is why I encourage my clients to develop plausible future scenarios, rather than merely follow trends. Only by doing so, can they be prepared for every possible risk and opportunity. Identifying one, most likely future is unlikely to deliver the variation that will no doubt happen. For more on this topic, read “5 Business Success Factors (So You’re Ready for Anything!)”

As I mentioned at the beginning, technology is an enabler that permits industries … Click to continue reading

How to Measure Customer Centricity the Right Way

As a customer-first strategist (just like you I hope), I spend a lot of my time searching how to better measure customer centricity for my clients. I also do a lot of analyses on what customers really want today. I’m always trying to understand the exact solutions customers need, desire and dream of having.

My regular searches include customer service, customer satisfaction, customer care and similar topic areas. Google is my best friend! However, I recently came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post. I believe they show a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers today. Read the article and then let me know whether or not you agree with my analysis.

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY

Wikipedia, another online friend of mine, doesn’t have a definition of customer centricity! If you look up the term, you get redirected to customer satisfaction!  Try it for yourself and see.

My other go-to source for definitions is  businessdictionary.com which defines customer centric as:

“Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.”

It then goes on to say

“A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.”

Now although I find the definition limited, since it refers only to sales and post-sale activities, I do like the fact that it mentions three important elements of customer centricity:

  • A positive customer experience
  • Adds value to a company
  • Enables differentiation

This clearly identifies three huge benefits of becoming (more) customer centric:

1. A positive customer experience has been shown to increase both loyalty and advocacy. As we all know, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer, as it does to keep a current one. Therefore loyalty is an incredibly valuable benefit for a brand.

According to recent research by Bain & Company, along with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by between 25% and 95%. OK a very wide range, but I’m sure we’d all be happy with even a 25% increase in profits, wouldn’t we?

One further piece of research, this time from Marketing Metrics, shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is less than 20%.

Clearly placing more attention on keeping our current customers satisfied brings greater rewards than going after new ones. And yet that is what most companies set as a priority. Any ideas why?

2. Adding value to a company also increases the ROI of its marketing investments. This is something that marketing is constantly challenged to prove these days. With the risk of seeing their budgets cut if they are unable to provide convincing arguments to their bosses.

Luckily, what’s good for the customer is good for business. You can see many more facts and statistics … Click to continue reading

Are Smart Things Really Smart or is it Just Smart Marketing?

Earlier this year I wrote about the impact of AI and ML on digital marketing. The article is called “AI and ML are Taking Digital Marketing to the Next Level.” In it, I compared the positive and negative implications of technology for customers and companies alike.  So this week I wanted to write about the impact of smart choices for business in general.

We seem to be surrounded by smart things: smartwatches, smart clothing, smart cars, smart houses and smart appliances. But are they really that smart? 

The reason for my question is that an article entitled “Taking ‘Smart’ Out Of Smart Things” by Chuck Martin made me think about whether “smart things” really are that smart, or whether it’s something else that’s making them appear smart?

So here are my views on it. Feel free to add your own opinions in the comments below, I would love to start a discussion on “smartness”.

[bctt tweet=”We seem to be surrounded by smart things: smartwatches, smart clothing, smart cars, smart houses and smart appliances. But are they really that smart? ” #Smart #Technology #AI #ML username=”Denysech”]

 

The Age of the Customer and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In one of their older Customer Experience reports Forrester claimed that we are now in the Age of the Customer. This was music to my ears when I first read it, because as you know I’m a customer champion. However, The World Economic Forum reported a few years ago that we are now on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolutionwhich is blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres.

In their article, they explain that

“The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

Does this mean that people are becoming less and less important as technology takes over more and more areas of our daily lives – and value? Luckily no. The author, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum concludes the article by saying

In the end, it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them. In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make

Click to continue reading

Customers Care About a Product’s Value, Not How the Company Treats Employees

Your customers only really care about themselves and your product’s value to them!

I’ve been a customer champion for most of my career. But with the likes of Richard Branson saying it’s employees first, customers second, my confidence was beginning to slide a little.

Thank goodness, therefore, for some new research from Global RepTrak® that has finally confirmed what I have always believed. Customers care about themselves first and foremost! Everyone else comes second.

Dale Carnegie spelled it out really well when he said:

“People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner.”

[bctt tweet=”People are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner.” Dale Carnegie ” username=”Denysech”]

It was the below chart that I first saw on MarketingCharts.com that alerted me to this work by RepTrak™. (I highly recommend signing up for their daily charts by the way; they’re a great source of facts and inspiration!)

 

 

The article that accompanies the chart is a great read too. However, I wanted to take a look behind these numbers and try to understand why some influencers have been pushing employee centricity.

 

Products And Services Are Key

The first four factors of reputation shown in the graph above are all product related. Therefore it’s clear that customers think about themselves first and foremost. They want satisfaction and therefore it’s a product’s value that matters most. I think that’s normal, don’t you? They are looking for a solution that meets their needs and a company that stands behind what they offer.

Great customer service won’t make up for a terrible product or service offer. So every organisation needs to ensure that what they propose is the very best they possibly can.

[bctt tweet=”Great customer service won’t make up for a terrible product .” username=”Denysech”]

However, it is also true that the quality and value you offer depends to a large extent on the excellence of your employees in delivering it. If employees are not motivated to give their best, then what they deliver will be sub-optimal.

This is why it is essential that everyone within a company understands their role in satisfying the customer.

One of the quickest ways I have found to achieve this is by providing regular access to the customer. Once an employee sees and understands what they can do to increase satisfaction, they are much more likely to do it. After all, it’s absurd to think that they would want their employer to fail, isn’t it? In fact, I have seen a genuine excitement around customer connections whenever I have introduced them within an organisation.

If you’d like to organise your own customer connection sessions then I highly recommend reading “Five Rules of Observation and Why it’s Hard to Do Effectively.”

 

Employees Are An Important Touchpoint

I think it was P&G who coined the phrase “the first moment of truth” in referring to the beginning of the shopping experience. … Click to continue reading

What a Short Hospital Stay Taught me About Customer Experience

Examples of exceptional customer experience can come from anywhere! You know that. You keep your eyes and ears open and find inspiration everywhere. So do I.

But last week, I had the fright of my life. I returned from visiting my family over the festive season, with an ever-increasing pain in my lower back.

OK, so sitting all day is not good for my posture. I suppose I deserve to finally pay for all the hours I spend in front of a screen every day.

Anyway, it got so bad that I visited the doctor on Wednesday, who gave me painkillers, anti-inflammatories and a muscle relaxant. I took them all that evening, but when I got up the following morning, I fainted from a sudden intense pain. A half hour later I managed to crawl out of bed to take my pills, then hobbled back again to wait until they took effect.

A couple of hours later when I tried to get up, I again fainted with the pain, but now also had the new sensation of an explosive flame which shot down my back to my right foot! I was totally immobilised in three seconds flat!

I was in agony, so all I could do was to return to my bed. However, the mattress no longer offered any relief and I whimpered like a tortured animal as I suffered continuously from these now double injuries.

Living alone I realised that this was serious. Luckily my mobile was by my bed so I called the emergency services who immediately sent an ambulance. All this to say that I ended up spending a night in a hospital for only the second time in my life.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Two days later I fell down the stairs as my leg had become partially paralysed. Another visit to the emergency room, an ankle brace fitted, a consultant’s assessment, an MRI scan and finally emergency surgery the following day.

All these experiences of hospitals and doctors gave me the superb opportunity to see the health service from the patient’s perspective. I work a lot with the Pharma industry but luckily never became a patient, until now.

As you probably know, becoming your customer and seeing the market from their perspective is one of the exercises I suggest to better understand your customers. How often do you do it? Ever?!!

I learnt a lot about how to excel at customer experience from all my visits. Surprisingly, many of the practices of the nurses and doctors that I witnessed in my heavily sedated state, are easily transferable to any business. This is why I decided to share them with you.

So here are my seven learnings about excellence in customer experience:

 

1. Introduce yourself

Every time someone came to my room, they introduced themselves and explained why they were there. As the first establishment, I stayed in was a University Hospital, there were tens if not hundreds of staff on duty, so … Click to continue reading

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