It is virtually impossible for a business to sustain differentiation through price, product or service - there are just too many options available to customers and most businesses are employing the exact same tactics to keep up.
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This is why the customer experience, and therefore a customer-focused business, has moved from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have as a way to distinguish a business from its competitors.
Customers aren’t looking to interact with a corporate or a business anymore, they are looking for authentic and personalised experiences that demonstrate the value a company has placed on each customer.
PwC’s Future of the Customer Experience report found that over two-thirds of customers (73%) point to the customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, with 42% noting that they would pay more for a better experience.
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What’s more, customer demands were rarely what businesses thought they were. For example, it’s not about the product benefits but rather about how the product will speak to the customer’s lifestyle and experience that will attract new business and lead to repeat business.
When a business integrates customer-centricity into its business strategy, a change occurs in the way in which the organisation and its staff think about and treat their customers on all levels. Employees tend to have more empathy towards customers, resulting in more authentic and positive customer experiences with an organisation.
Nowadays businesses are increasingly moving away from a product-centric focus to a customer-centric focus as they move to incorporate the customer’s experience into the heart of their business.
So what caused this shift?
Simply put, the change in customer behaviour has provided the catalyst for this change. A decade ago, the customer’s purchase path was very different from what it is now.
Customers were largely simply presented with a variety of brands selling a specific product they were looking for, and certain differentiating factors such as price or quality would influence their purchasing decision. If this product worked well enough for the customer, it was likely that they would then become brand loyal.
However, now more than ever before customers have access to much more information and suppliers which means brand loyalty is now built by the customer experience. The connectedness of the digital age has given customers much more power in their buying ability and they are becoming more discerning.
Businesses and customers now rely on independent reviews, recommendations from trusted sources and the ability to Google search terms like “best xxx product”. Combine this with an increase in choice of goods and services along with the ability to share personal experiences with a product or brand, customers now have a tangible influence over brands.
Customer experience, therefore, becomes a crucial factor. A poor experience can drive away existing and potential customers, possibly leading them straight into your competitor’s hands.
How does being customer-focused benefit organisations?
Modelling your business around the customer and not the products or services you offer sounds like a good thing to do in theory. However, a business is there to make revenue, so what kind of return on investment can companies expect from such a change in focus?
The answer to this question is fairly straightforward. Essentially, by virtue of knowing exactly who your customers are, what they want and how and when they want to be interacted with, not only are businesses able to provide them with the experience they are looking for, but they are also able to eliminate the processes or products that customers don’t want. In a nutshell, being customer-centric reduces costs and increases revenue while building loyalty and the brand.
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More companies are becoming customer-centric and it’s easy to see why. Companies that are customer-focused are likely to be more profitable, more flexible, retain customers and grow their market share. Over time, the change in the customer has required a shift in focus to honest and tailored interactions and an improvement in businesses’ ability to understand the choices customers make, the interests that drive their choices and how best to communicate with them.
Understanding where your organisation or product fits within the context of a customer’s life serves to make the customer experience significantly better along the entire customer journey, starting well before an organisation’s direct role in the experience and ending well thereafter.
These are exactly the advantages businesses need, both to survive, retain a competitive edge and provide a more rewarding and enriching work environment for their employees, furthering themselves ahead of the pack to become leaders within their respective industries.
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