By Benson Mukandiwa
Since the start of the new millennium customer expectations and behaviours have changes dramatically over the past decade. Brands are expected to meet customers’ needs and expectations at every interaction, in return for customer loyalty. The ability to deliver this depends on the extent to which ‘customer –centricity’ is embedded within every single person in your business.
“How does a customer-centric culture unlock brand value? What does customer centric mean and how do brands show it exists?” A ‘customer-centric’ brand is: a brand that defines markets and sells its products and services from the customers’ point of view. Many brands say they are customer-centric, but few really are. It is important for brands that claim to be customer-centric to deliver on the proclamation or risk alienating customers who rely on the statement.
Brands that fail to deliver on the promise of focusing on the customer, often suffer the consequences in the form of economic loss. Becoming a customer focused and driven brand requires more than just deciding it is a good idea in order to boost sales; thus to be a customer focused brand requires dedication, time, commitment, and a great deal of effort.
Brands that become ‘customer-centric’ understand that their business is no longer about the product or service that they once provided; it is now about the customer that uses the product or service provided by the brand. Customers don’t buy products or services; they buy results. The attitudes and quality of the service provided to customers is an important consideration. Customer-centric brands ask questions differently. Their values, mission, and distribution structures exist for the customer, not the brand or its owners. In their quest to become customer-centric, brands must consider that it is not enough just to take care of the customer today, they must think beyond today and plan for what the customer will desire tomorrow. Brands must do more than anticipate customers’ stated needs. This is not always an easy thing to do, especially when technology is involved. However, brands that make the investment required to change their whole way of thinking often find that the process is made easier. At the heart of becoming a true customer-centric brand is the ability to create value for the customer whenever they come into contact with a brand. What drives this new model is not profit but the creation of value for the customer, a process that lies at the core of all successful enterprises. Value creation generates the energy that holds these businesses together, and their very existence depends on it.
At the heart of customer-centricity is the concept of the customer value equation. This equation suggests that value of goods and services delivered to customers equals to the results created for them as well as the quality of the processes used to deliver the results, all in relation to the price of a service to the customer and other costs incurred by the customer in the acquiring the service. This symbiotic equation relationship can be the basis for the prognosis of strategy implementation of a sound customer-centric philosophy any brand will choose to adopt.
Market conditions are driving brands to become more customer-centric. In order to provide the best possible customer service experience possible and differentiate one’s self from the competition, brands are beginning to transition from being product-centric to being customer-centric. Profit making entities are realizing that the common denominator between product or service delivery and corporate profitability is the customer. Because of this, many brands are redesigning their current business strategies around the customer-centric philosophy. Brands are recognizing that just like employees, inventory, or cash, customers are a valuable asset that should be managed accordingly. Not only do customers generate revenue for a brand, what they say and how they feel can influence future revenue.
Customer-centric brands listen to their customers and respond accordingly. Business strategies is crafted from the view point of the customer, and thus reduce expenditures on unwanted processes, and at the same time create new business opportunities as a result of customer feedback. It is now widely accepted that profitable customer experiences are no longer transaction based, but rather relationship based. For a brand to maximize the Service-Profit chain strategy, they must not only concentrate on employee satisfaction, but they must also become “customer-centric.” Being truly customer-centric requires that everyone in the brand be aligned to have contact, or the opportunity to affect customers.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR: Benson Mukandiwa is a certified Customer Service Strategist & training consultant, sales professional, internationally published author, and marketing researcher. He is a trained Interaction leader by British Council and certified Champion Coach by Success Motivation International (SMI)-USA.
Mukandiwa serves as Business Development Executive (Southern Region) at the Chartered Institute of Customer Relationship Management Africa (CICRMA). Benson is happily married to wife Martha the couple is blessed with two sons.
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