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5 ways to build customer centricity in your company

In the past, customers made purchase decisions based almost entirely on practical drivers like price, quality, and availability. But, nowadays, customers increasingly make decisions based on more changeable drivers like customer experience. As many as 55% of customers are willing to pay more for a good customer experience, even if they end up with the same product or service in the end.

Companies with good customer centricity are the companies that put customer experience first. They drive repeat sales by guaranteeing an excellent experience for the customer before, during, and after every purchase. This approach to sales is more thoughtful—and more lucrative. The Harvard Business Review finds that companies that increase customer retention by just 5% increase profit by 25% to 95%.

Are you ready to make your company more customer centric? Here are 5 ways to build a business culture that prioritizes customer experience.

You need to understand your customer experience before you can make it a priority. Luckily, all you have to do is ask. A customer satisfaction survey helps you dissect and, ultimately, improve your customer experience. In fact, just asking for feedback can, by itself, boost customer satisfaction.

Many companies rely on the Net Promoter Score® to measure the quality of their customer experiences. Whatever customer satisfaction survey you settle on, make sure it includes both multiple-choice questions and open-ended questions. Multiple-choice questions help you evaluate the customer experience in general, while open-ended questions help you identify specific areas to work on.

Ideally, your survey responses should reflect the full range of customer experiences, both good and bad. To gather useful data, seek out negative feedback by sending surveys to people who return products and to leads who cancel meetings or consultations. The negative feedback you get from dissatisfied customers and lost leads can be just as valuable (or more!) as the positive feedback you get from satisfied customers.

When a dissatisfied customer gives feedback, many companies do damage control by offering an apology, a refund, or a gift voucher. These gestures can remedy the customer relationship, but too often don’t solve the real issue (like a bad policy or a common glitch) at the root of a legitimately bad experience.

A company that takes customer centricity seriously responds proactively, as well as reactively, to customer feedback. A proactive response remedies the customer relationship, but also introduces a real solution that will keep the issue from happening again. This solution might include giving a customer priority access to customer support, improving a product, or changing a bad policy.

Let your customers know you’re listening to them by responding proactively to their customer feedback. Tell them how their feedback affected change in your company, either generally or (if possible) specifically. In the words of entrepreneur Alan Weiss, “Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.”

Even with customer surveys, as few as 4% of dissatisfied customers tell your company about their bad experience. It’s difficult, as well, to collect data from leads who never made a purchase because they had a bad customer experience early on. To uncover these blind spots, take the time to audit your customer journey from start to finish.

Have employees or other stakeholders go through the customer journey, from (a) awareness to (b) consideration to (c) purchase to (d) delight, as if they were customers. Gather their insights with a customer satisfaction survey, or build a custom survey that has them comment separately on each stage of the selection, purchase, and delivery processes.

There’s a fair amount of evidence that most purchase decisions are based on emotional, not rational, drivers. How a company treats its customers makes up a full 70% of customer experience, according McKinsey & Co. If you want to improve customer centricity, it’s essential to treat your customers with respect every step of the way.

When you treat customers well, they’ll be happy to give you their business. Bain & Co has found that companies with exceptional customer experiences grow revenue at 4% to 8% above the market average. The effect of customer experience on consumer choice is staggering. By 2020, some predict, customer experience will be a more important brand differentiator than price or product.

For loyal customers, the customer journey doesn’t end at the point of sale. Stay customer centric by sending out regular marketing emails, hosting events (like private sales for loyal customers), or using a rewards program. When you extend the customer experience beyond the point of sale, you begin building lasting customer loyalty.

Rewards programs and email marketing are two particularly effective ways to retain customers and grow repeat sales. According to Citigroup, 86% of customers are more loyal to brands with rewards programs. And email marketing has a conversion rate of between 2% and 10%, which makes it about 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter.

Put your customer at the center of your business culture. Your most important tool, as you build customer centricity in your company, is a customer satisfaction survey that collects actionable data from customers and other stakeholders. Start building your survey now.

NPS®, Net Promoter® & Net Promoter® Score are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.