Customer-centricity isn’t just a buzzword – it’s the future of CXby
Nicole Holt of Beehive Research, discusses the relationship between customer-centricity and CX – arguing that customer-centricity isn't just a buzzword, it's a mindset that organisations must adopt if they want to succeed in the future.
Customer-centricity should be a given for any organisation by now. We know from the swathes of evidence, research and case studies that customer-centric organisations are more likely to achieve better business results.
They have 1.5 times more engaged employees than less customer-focused companies. And, crucially, companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80%.
But what does customer-centricity really mean in the current climate? And how can organisations keep up with changing customer needs?
Change is now
A variety of internal and external factors naturally impact the relationship any organisation builds with its customers. And we know only too well that economic pressures influence the decisions and choices customers make, and therefore customer acquisition and retention. So, today, organisations need to be more responsive, agile and adaptable than ever.
What this means for customer-centricity is that it requires a more holistic approach that touches every area of the organisation, to ensure that everyone in the business is working efficiently and effectively towards creating strong, long-lasting relationships with customers.
No two organisations are entirely alike, so planning, measuring and acting on CX is obviously going to be different for every business.
However, in order for customer-centricity to deliver a competitive edge, businesses must be willing to tailor their CX strategies on a regular basis so that they remain relevant and finely tuned to their unique position in the market, the products or services they offer, the customers they serve, and the values they adhere to.
In order for customer-centricity to deliver a competitive edge, businesses must be willing to tailor their CX strategies on a regular basis.
Customer-centricity is clearly a continually moving beast. What works today may very well need to be adapted to work tomorrow. So, while the future holds many possibilities and opportunities – some more challenging than others – the ability to change will be imperative.
Just as we can expect to see changes in how we work, live, and play – and how our customers choose to do business with us – we can also expect to see rapid developments in CX which should help us to keep customer-centricity front and centre.
As Bill Gates recently said in his blog: “The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone.
“It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.”
With more rapid change on the horizon, AI will inevitably infiltrate customer experience, impacting customer expectations and how organisations deliver that experience. Organisations should be thinking about future trends now in order to keep up with consumer needs and remain customer-centric.
Keeping pace with change
When we talk about the future of customer-centricity, we often emphasise its benefits for organisations. But let's take a step back and remember what it's really about: the customer.
As Ian Williams, Chief Marketing & CX Officer at Jericho Consulting, discussed recently: “Customer-centricity has changed over the past two years with organisations’ increased focus on digital, but whether there has been more focus on the actual customer experience is questionable.”
What organisations do to ensure they are adapting and evolving to meet changing customer expectations will undoubtedly be shaped by several trends and technologies that already have an impact on how businesses interact with their customers.
Customers want brands to understand their individual needs and preferences and deliver a tailored experience. This means that organisations need to access more data on customers than ever before, and use it in a responsible, ethical way.
The challenge for organisations is delivering this personalisation without coming across as intrusive.
Personalisation can take many forms, from product recommendations based on browsing behaviour to customised content and messaging. The challenge for organisations is delivering this personalisation without coming across as intrusive.
Customers don't just interact with brands in one way anymore. They might browse on their mobile phone, shop in-store, and make purchases on their computer. The future of customer-centricity involves offering a seamless, consistent experience across all channels.
This means that organisations need to break down silos and ensure that all departments are aligned on the customer experience. It also means investing in technology that supports an omnichannel approach, such as customer data platforms and marketing automation.
Customers are increasingly aware of the impact their purchasing decisions have on the world around them. The future of customer-centricity involves brands having a purpose beyond profit, and aligning with customers on issues that matter to them.
This might mean supporting causes related to sustainability, diversity and inclusion, or social justice. Purpose-driven organisations are more likely to build strong relationships with customers, who see the brand as a partner in making a positive impact.
The pace of change is only going to accelerate in the coming years. This means that organisations need to be agile and adaptable if they want to keep up with customers.
This might require shifting strategies quickly based on customer feedback, experimenting with new technologies and channels, and being willing to take risks. Customer-centricity in the future will require a mindset of continuous improvement and experimentation.
The future of customer-centricity is reliant on leaders who know what they are doing. As Williams explains: “Great CEOs will be great CX leaders; those who instinctively and intentionally put the customer at the heart of the business and will only implement change that has a positive impact for the customer as well as the organisation.”
Strong leadership requirements are nothing new, but as we face rapid change in the years ahead, organisations must have leaders who can fully embrace the new, with as much positive customer impact as possible.
Finally, the future of customer-centricity will require empathy – both from organisations and customers. We are facing a rapidly changing world that is causing stress and anxiety for many people. Brands that can understand and empathise with their customers' experiences will be more likely to build loyalty and trust.
The future of customer-centricity will require empathy – both from organisations and customers.
This means taking a human-centric approach to marketing, and investing in the emotional intelligence of employees who interact with customers.
A mindset of centricity
Customer-centricity isn't just a buzzword, it's a mindset that organisations must adopt if they want to succeed in the future. And this is perhaps the most critical point of all: if an organisation is just paying lip-service to centricity, it’s “doomed to failure”, according to Williams.
So many CX terms, he says, have been “thrown into modern business parlance without any substantive change in business practice.”
For organisations to succeed with customer-centricity, they need to focus on the organisation-wide approach they take, rather than making superficial changes such as job titles, or introducing ad hoc ‘CX initiatives’ and then hoping that the problems fix themselves.
Only by paying close attention to the key elements that are driving true customer-centricity that we’ve outlined above, can organisations create experiences that meet the evolving needs of customers, build loyalty and trust, and drive better business results.
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Helping brands deliver an excellent customer experience across their products and services, incorporating product design, co-creation, user experience and positioning as well as more traditional customer experience.
Professional researcher with more than 25 years' experience of designing, implementing and analysing global research...