Because the marketplace is heavily saturated and competitive, creating a business that puts customers first is crucial. Consumer power should not be underestimated, as customers won't hesitate to stop supporting your business if they don’t feel valued. Therefore, its extremely valuable to create a customer-centric culture in your business. But what exactly is customer-centric culture, why does it matter, and can you create one in your own business?
What is customer orientation?
Customer orientation refers to a business strategy that prioritizes customers above all else. It’s all about helping customers fulfil their needs and desires.
Rather than focusing on competitors or other extraneous factors, customer orientation prioritizes customer (or client) satisfaction, both during a transaction and beyond.
Why a customer-centric culture matters
For businesses wanting to get ahead, creating a customer-centric culture is vital. In fact, research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-driven businesses were 60% more profitable than those without a customer orientation strategy in place.
Customer orientation creates a loyal customer community, which brings in more revenue for your business in the long run. According to Temkin Group, loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase repeatedly, seven times more likely to buy a new product, and four times more likely to recommend your company to a friend or family member.
A customer centric culture doesn’t just benefit your ROI — it also benefits your employees too. A study by SurveyMonkey found that employees that work in a customer-centric company feel valued. Staff who feel that their employer values its customers are twice as likely to want to work for the same employer in two years.
The studies above highlight the importance of a customer-centric culture for businesses. Implementing a customer orientation strategy has significant, tangible results for companies. Its success is measurable and delivers real benefits to customer-facing businesses.
Customer-driven marketing strategies
Meet customer needs — regardless of being a B2C or B2B business
Customer orientation is all about meeting customer needs. Consult the members of your target audience and use their comments and feedback to focus on adding desirable features (such as free delivery or easy returns) that will enhance your customer's experience.
If you’re operating in the B2B sector, consider ABM, or account-based marketing. In essence, ABM focuses on creating a fresh strategy for every prospective customer, made possible through custom viewer-specific storefronts and tons of research.
B2B isn't any less customer-oriented than B2C markets — in some instances, there might even be a need for an enhanced customer-centric approach for B2B markets. This is especially true when you are speaking to savvy decision makers and hard-to-impress business leaders.
Everything you do, from e-commerce sales to storefront and website branding, must be appealing to your customer segments.
Collect customer feedback
Customer feedback is vital for developing a customer-centric business culture. Use feedback from your customers to fine-tune your strategy and gear it towards consumer needs.
This is ideal for collecting genuine, honest insights into how you are currently performing, rather than relying on assumptions. Use surveys to receive feedback and let your customers know that you are actively using their input to improve your business and therefore, putting them first.
Encourage customer referrals
Referrals are a great way to build a customer-driven culture. Encourage your current customers to tell their friends and family about your business through word-of-mouth.
Referral programs are a great tool to help you with customer referrals. In addition to providing your existing customers with an incentive to recommend your brand (such as a discount or free sample), referral programs also let you quantify your customer orientation strategy.
Nurture loyalty through rewards
A customer-centric culture is built around consumer loyalty. This generates repetitive sales and recommendations, and builds a strong customer community.
A reward program is a great way to foster your relationships with your customers. Give your customers points for every purchase they make, so that they can use a discount on a purchase in the future. Complementing reward programs with free samples, discount codes, and personalized marketing is bound to make your customers feel valued.
Use language that reassures your customers
The way that brands interact with their customers plays a big role in creating a customer-centric culture. If customers are treated as a valued customer rather than just 'another customer', they will feel more engaged and inclined to keep supporting your business.
Use language that shows customers they are valued — thank them for their input and acknowledging their issues. Language goes a long way towards showing customers that their well being is your primary concern.
Customer focus examples
- The tech giant Microsoft has made a conscious change to put customers at the heart of its culture. Rather than pleasing shareholders, the brand is looking at improving customer satisfaction by creating products that consumers will love.
- Video game brand Electronic Arts (EA) has implemented a number of changes in recent years that put customer happiness over profits. EA removed the online fee added to second-hand games and offered a money-back guarantee for its PC games (often prone to glitches).
- Fast food giant McDonald’s discovered that its customers were seeking ethical, organic practices when it came to what they ate. From antibiotic-free chicken to milk free from artificial hormones, McDonald’s now puts customer preferences first as part of its business strategy.
Customer focus quotes to inspire you
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Jeff Bezos - CEO of Amazon
“The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.”
Dharmesh Shah - Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot
“Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.”
Scott Cook - Co-founder of Intuit
“Every company’s greatest assets are its customers because without customers there is no company.”
Michael LeBoeuf - Business author and former management professor at the University of New Orleans
“We have entered the era of the customer. Today, providing customers with outstanding customer service is essential to building loyal customers and a long-lasting brand.”
Jerry Gregoire - Founder and chairman of Redbird Flight Simulations
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
Seth Godin - American author and former dot com business executive
“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”
Jeff Bezos - CEO of Amazon
“The customer’s perception is your reality.”
Kate Zabriskie - Founder of Business Training Works
“Revolve your world around the customer and more customers will revolve around you.”