Publication

The power of customer centricity

29.08.2019

How to turn customer experience into a unique selling point.

Customer centricity is more than just “customer orientation”. At the same time, there is a big gap between perception and the actual implementation of customer centricity. Companies can create a unique customer experience if they consider the right attributes. And it is precisely how they can clearly position and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Customer orientation and customer centricity are not the same thing. While customer orientation means offering products and services that customers want, the customer centricity approach focuses on those goods and services that customers need. Particularly customer experiences that are based on individual needs are essential to a company's success today. In the volatile world of digitization, competitors with new innovative technologies and competing products continuously create new incentives for acquiring customers and motivating them to change providers. This means that companies must increasingly separate themselves from their competitors to ensure long-term customer loyalty.

Developing customer centricity

New services and products are being created ever more quickly, but often they end up being identical to another provider's products. Companies are finding it noticeably more difficult to distinguish themselves from the competition with special differentiating features, and to highlight a specific added value. That is why an integrated customer centricity strategy is an important guide on the way to the optimum customer experience.

And it starts with the customer. Customer buying behaviors and expectations have changed significantly in recent years. In the age of social media, it is important to acquire brand ambassadors. This is only possible by building trust in the company, having the right instincts when it comes to managing modern technologies, as well as a personalized approach for the target groups. Five attributes must be reflected for customer centricity to develop effectively:

1. Understanding the customer: From pure customer orientation to customer centricity

Many companies believe they know what their customers want. But the goal must be to know what the customer really needs, not just what he or she wants. Hence only a holistic examination of customers across individual touch points presents a reliable basis for the right “diagnosis”.

At the same time, companies also face the challenge of correctly capturing the needs of their customers. Because greatly decentralized responsibilities, structures and processes that are “all about the customer” often make it quite difficult to assess demand. But such an assessment provides the basis for an integrative approach for customer-centric strategies. Platform-spanning and digitized options for interacting with potential buyers with real-time data and customer insights help with consolidating the decentralized structures and processes in a customer-centric manner.

Expert tip

Experience from numerous projects has shown that many processes between individual functional departments are disrupted and therefore only fragmented knowledge is used as a basis. Therefore silos must be broken up and cross-functional connecting elements must be created: Companies should establish a Customer Centricity Excellence Committee to secure interfaces and a holistic identity.

2. Correctly interpreting desires and needs: From analysis to strategic measures

Companies must know how to interpret customer desires correctly based on their analyses, so they can be translated into concrete strategic measures. These should lead to target group-appropriate products and services. The goal is to deliver only what customers really need. In the ideal case, it leads to the development of products that the buyers did not even know they needed.

But such customized solutions can only be realized with an integrated customer centricity strategy, i.e. the right interaction between innovation, technology and design experience, as well as their targeted establishment in the company. The entire value chain must focus on the customer and align the activities in the company accordingly.

Expert tip

Customer Centricity Excellence is the guiding concept in this regard. This means: Every participant must recognize customer centricity as a holistic transformation. Otherwise the effect of customer centricity within the company will be under-estimated. Companies must align structures, processes, responsibilities as well as target/planning and controlling systems to their customers and their needs across the entire organization - with the goal of creating a holistic, customer-centric company.

3. Establishing Customer Centricity Excellence: Requires the commitment of employees and management

Customer Centricity Excellence can only be achieved when employees and management display a high level of engagement. Customer centricity is a way of thinking that must be reflected in the actions of each and every employee. The focus is on the customer - and this approach must also be practiced and depicted. This requires a sustained management commitment – Customer Centric Leadership – so that business decisions are made with the customer in mind, and they support measures that continuously optimize the customer experience.

Expert tip

Customer centricity will only be established in the company and exert a positive influence if data-based customer insights are used as a decision-making basis for management reports.

4. Building empathy and trust: From buyers to brand ambassadors

Besides the basis of examining customer centricity as a holistic transformation, empathy and trust are also considered important factors for a successful customer experience. However, these two aspects are often overlooked.

 

Expert tip

A personalized and customized approach with the right customer centricity communication can work wonders. Because it is the only way customers develop trust and affection for the company and choose it as the preferred partner for certain services. Studies have shown that this applies in both the B2C and B2B sector.

5. Human touch: Combining technological innovations and the human touch

The use of artificial intelligence and other technologies offers many advantages for optimizing the value chain and generating fast response times. The big challenge is to not lose sight of the human component in the interaction. Therefore companies must add a certain “human touch” to their technological innovations.

 

Expert tip

Digitization is without doubt changing the relationships and interactions with customers. At the same time, digital processes must also possess a human touch, and they must be able to address the feelings and needs of customers. This characteristic should be at the forefront – without consideration of personal interests or departmental boundaries. Particularly when it comes to the customer context, it is important to remember that digitization “only” changes processes between humans, hence these must also be at the forefront of the process.

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Conclusion

Product diversity, special services and price advantages are no longer sufficient to achieve a unique position compared to the competition. Competitive advantages can only be obtained with a unique customer experience and extraordinary products. Therefore companies must focus on a unique customer journey when developing their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) . To this end, customer-centric strategies, processes, responsibilities and decisions must be fully established in the company. In this way, the customer becomes the center of all things, and also makes it possible to perform a holistic assessment across all touch points. Where customer centricity is fully integrated into the business model and value chain, and where it has been credibly developed as a unique selling point, companies are able to create real added value and can position themselves accordingly in the market.