If you’re looking to build a powerful eCommerce brand, you must focus on customer-centricity. What does this mean? It means that customer satisfaction and quality is the key to increasing revenue.
The more you can do for your customers, the more likely they will be satisfied with their experience and return as dedicated shoppers. This post explains what you need to know about customer-centricity and how to use this strategy to drive your eCommerce growth.
What is Meant by Customer-Centricity?
We need to define and understand customer-centricity before we can successfully focus on it.
Simply put, customer-centricity puts the customers at the center of your business and creates a strategy that enhances their experience as shoppers.
For this type of focus to work, you must be willing to change certain aspects of your company to suit the customer better. This could mean anything from improving your website’s design, brand messaging or offering more payment options.
Why is Customer-Centricity So Popular?
We can attribute the rise in customer-centricity to a few different factors. First, there has been a shift in consumer behavior as customers are now more likely to shop online than in stores. This allows eCommerce businesses to reach more consumers than ever before.
Second, since there is more competition than ever before, companies realize that they need to focus on the customer to stay ahead.
And finally, technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to track and analyze customer data. Now more than ever, companies can understand the intricacies of what customers need and want.
The Customer Lifecycle
A key element of customer-centricity is focusing on the entire customer lifecycle. This means implementing strategies that focus on the whole customer journey rather than just one touchpoint (such as the sale).
This approach allows companies to be proactive instead of reactive. You’ll be able to identify problems before they occur, which means you are more likely to retain customers.
Why the Big Focus on Customer-Centricity All of the Sudden?
Why is customer-centricity so critical for eCommerce businesses? Here’s a simple summary:
- Customer-centricity is a great way to differentiate your business from the competition
- Customer-centricity can help increase brand loyalty among customers.
- Customer-centricity can increase revenue as customers are more likely to return and shop with you again.
What Are the Benefits of Customer-Centricity?
There are many benefits to adopting a customer-centric approach, including:
Increased revenue: A customer-centric business will have a higher income than a solely product-centric one.
Customer retention: Customers are more likely to shop with you again if they had a good experience the first time around. This also means lower marketing costs, as customers tell others about positive shopping experiences.
A better overall brand image: Customers are less likely to shop with a business if they have had negative experiences. The practice also builds greater brand loyalty.
Enhanced customer satisfaction: Focusing on the customer leads to a better overall experience, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
Client-Centricity vs. Product-Centricity
There is a big difference between client-centricity and product-centricity. Client centricity means focusing on the customers, not just their purchases.
Product-centric businesses focus solely on selling products rather than the overall experience of shopping with them.
Goals of the Client-Centric Model
Most businesses (especially before the technological revolution) focused solely on selling products. However, in a client-centric model, your primary focus is to provide value and meet customers’ needs before they even realize their need exists.
That means implementing an effective customer relationship management strategy to learn more about what your shoppers want from you as a business owner.
Therefore, the overarching goal of client-centricity is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for customers to shop with you.
A customer-centric way of doing business focuses on providing a positive customer experience before and after the sale to drive repeat business, enhance customer loyalty and improve business growth.
In other words, the goal here is to create a collaborative relationship with your customers to serve them better. When you are focused on meeting customer needs, they are more likely to return and refer others to your business.
The Challenges of Becoming a Customer-Centric Organization
It’s not enough to simply adopt the philosophy of customer-centricity. Doing so means it is time for a change, which can be a big challenge.
For instance, it will require thinking differently about your business and changing certain aspects of your operation to better suit customers’ needs.
How to Overcome the Barriers to Customer-Centricity
Overcoming barriers to customer-centricity is simple but not easy. It requires a thorough audit of every aspect of your business — your website, your messaging, your USP (unique selling proposition), and your entire purchase process.
As you take meticulous inventory of these things, you must constantly return to the following questions:
- Does this add to or detract from customer satisfaction with my brand?
- Does this focus more on us as the hero of the story or the customer as the hero?
- Can this be eliminated or augmented to improve the customer experience?
You’ll also need to ensure that you have the necessary resources to support these changes, such as employees dedicated to providing excellent customer service.
What Software Tools Support Customer Centricity and Drive eCommerce Growth?
No one wants to feel like they are just a number on your client list or another sale you need to make. Customers want to feel important to you, so your business must invest in customer service systems and software.
These tools allow you to monitor their experiences from end to end and provide proactive outreach with valuable content that keeps them engaged.
Here are some to consider:
- CRM software helps you keep track of customer interactions and store customer data for analysis.
- Marketing automation software that helps you target customers with relevant content and track the success of your marketing campaigns.
- Social media monitoring tools help you track conversations about your brand online and respond to customers quickly.
- Software that integrates with your eCommerce inventory management systems. For example, SkuVault’s inventory management tools integrate seamlessly with your eCommerce platform, helping you to keep track of stock levels and reorder points. Therefore, no customer is disappointed by waiting on stock — a factor that is so critical among supply chain shortages today.
- Transportation management systems (TMS). These systems help you plan, manage and track the movement of goods to and from your warehouse or distribution center.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems help you manage all aspects of your business, including customers and sales.
How Do You Become Customer-Centric?
According to HubSpot, there are seven key ways to become more customer-centric, including:
1. Anticipating the Needs of Your Clients
To be successful, you must understand what your clients want before they even know themselves. Also, what they want today may look very different long term. Luckily, you can anticipate their needs by constantly monitoring their behavior and keeping track of any changes.
Therefore, stay up to date with the latest industry trends and use this information to develop products or services that appeal to your clients.
More importantly, customers expect companies to do the legwork to anticipate their needs, so it makes good business sense to make helpful suggestions in this regard.
2. Making Yourself Available
We’ve all felt the frustration of not being able to speak to “a real person” in a customer service scenario. Try your hardest to avoid that when it comes to your business.
When a customer has a question or issue, they want immediate resolutions. Customer-centric organizations can give clients various communication options when they need help.
This step could mean having multiple customer service channels, such as phone, email, and live chat. You should also make sure that your hours of operation are convenient for your clients.
Having this kind of flexibility allows them to quickly get in touch with you no matter what their needs are at the time or where they happen to be.
3. Meeting with Customers Face-to-Face
There is no replacement for face-to-face interaction. Meeting with your customers in person helps you establish a deeper connection with them and better understand their needs. It also allows them to ask questions and voice concerns in a more relaxed setting.
Many customers will stop doing business with a company after just one bad experience, so listen closely to their feedback. Otherwise, you may be unpleasantly surprised later when your eCommerce sales start to dwindle.
Face-to-face meetings can also help build trust and strengthen relationships with your clients. They will appreciate that you value their time and take the initiative to meet with them in person.
Also, to make the most of these interactions, be prepared with a list of questions that will help you get to know your clients better.
4. Making Technology Part of Your Strategy
With technology advancing at such a fast rate, you must utilize the power of new systems to provide better service to your shoppers.
The tech has never been more accessible and easy to implement — it’s a win-win for you and your customers.
This could mean anything from using chatbots on your website to enhance the shopping experience or adding augmented reality features (such as the ability to see a piece of furniture in your space using your phone’s camera or virtually try on makeup before buying it).
Remember the end goal. These new technologies are all in service of the customer. You’re making it easier for customers to purchase from your brand and providing them with an enhanced overall experience.
These improvements may not seem groundbreaking individually. But taken as a whole, it may be the difference between repeat business or a prospect going to one of your competitors.
In addition, after listening to what your customers say, you should use appropriate tools such as CRM software to help you keep track of customer interactions and store customer data for analysis.
Doing so will help you make decisions that align with your customers’ wants. You can also use this feedback to improve customer service and develop new products or services.
5. Being Open to What Clients are Saying
There’s no better way to demonstrate you genuinely care about a customer than actively listening to them and being open to what they say.
This could mean listening to regular feedback, complaints, or suggestions about products and services in general.
As a bonus, you may find out that they want something different than what you have to offer. Then, you can take action to drive eCommerce growth in a new direction if you choose to.
6. Being Proactive When It Comes to Customer Service
To provide proactive customer service, you need to monitor your clients’ experiences from end to end.
This means knowing how they interact with your website and what kind of information they need before reaching out to you.
It also requires that someone check in on the status of their orders and provide them with constant updates.
7. Rolling Out the Welcome Mat for Customers
A successful customer-centric business will have an onboarding process to welcome new customers and get them up to speed once they make their first purchase.
Great onboarding is all about getting customers to “first value.”
In other words, you want to make the gap of time from their initial purchase to the “felt value” of their investment as small as possible.
This may include tutorials, emails, videos, or some other form of guidance after purchase. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a substantial FAQs section to head off any frustrations before they arise.
11 Best Practices Businesses Can Use to Become Customer-Centric
Here are 11 more best practices to help you prioritize and retain your customers:
1. Make a Plan for Satisfying Current Customers
Many companies don’t understand how crucial existing customers are and only focus on attracting new ones. While it’s an understandable goal, it’s only half of driving eCommerce growth.
Customer acquisition is often far more expensive than retaining existing customers for repeat business. We could make a strong argument that focusing on your existing customers may be more profitable than generating new leads — but we’ll save that for another blog post.
In addition to focusing all your efforts on acquiring new customers, you must also work hard at keeping the ones you already have happy by providing them with an exceptional experience.
Therefore, to keep your business growing, you need to have a plan for satisfying current customers to keep them from heading over to your competitors.
Informational or “top of funnel” content has the dual purpose of drawing in new leads while also adding value to existing clients. Most of this content doesn’t try to sell customers but simply build trust by providing industry knowledge or helpful resources.
Blog posts, eBooks, infographics, and webinars are examples of proven content types that work well in engaging your audience (and new prospects as well).
2. Incorporate Customer Satisfaction with Your Branding Strategy
Another way companies keep existing customers front and center is by incorporating customer satisfaction with their branding strategy.
That way, when existing and potential shoppers see their brand, they automatically connect them to stellar customer service.
For example: returning products to Amazon is all but seamless — and that’s no accident. They’ve built such a reputation that many consumers will purchase something on Amazon just because of their stellar return policy.
Loyal clients make up the bulk of your eCommerce growth, and you should do everything in your power to keep them happy.
3. Ask Your Customers What They Want
Steve Jobs said, “the best way to find out what people really want is to ask them.”
It’s not exactly a novel idea, but we’re always shocked at how few businesses put this into practice.
If you’re in eCommerce, conduct frequent customer surveys. If you’re in software, conduct live usability tests or focus groups.
Encourage your audience to be brutally honest, and listen closely to what they have to say. Pay attention to chatter on social media.
Most of the time, what we think our audience wants doesn’t reflect reality (especially in the early stages of a business).
4. Maintain a High Level of Transparency
Customers want to feel like they’re in control. For your business to be successful, you need to maintain a high level of transparency with them while also being upfront about what you can and cannot do.
This includes everything from shipping times and fees, returns and warranties, and how you handle customer data.
Being open and honest about your policies will help customers feel more comfortable doing business with you, resulting in more sales and referrals.
5. Don’t Forget About Your Product Catalog
Even though businesses need to focus on their customers, they still need to ensure their product catalog is updated and accurate. For this information to be helpful, products must have clear descriptions that accurately represent them.
Additionally, you must have a high-quality product image with each listing to help give shoppers an accurate depiction of what they’re buying.
If your pictures are blurry (or inconsistent from product to product), potential customers may not purchase the item and instead go elsewhere for their purchases.
6. Don’t be Obsolete
Stay up to date with the latest industry trends and use this information to develop products or services that appeal to your clients.
For example, if your customers drop hints that they want something you don’t currently offer, consider developing it as a product or service.
After all, having a guaranteed audience ready and willing to buy significantly mitigates the risk of research and development.
The main thing is not to fall behind and miss out on the latest eCommerce growth opportunities because your competitors are already ahead of you to capture their attention.
7. Design the Products and Services Clients Need
Customer-centric companies are fully invested in designing and offering their potential customers’ products and services.
In other words, they’re always keeping an eye out for what’s trending and what the next big thing is to keep customers returning again and again.
This strategy involves developing new products and services to be abreast of industry standards while also giving a shout-out to their existing customers.
In the end, you may find out they want something very different from what you are currently offering. That can often be a massive opportunity for growth too.
8. Don’t Over-Promise and Under-Deliver
For a customer-centric company to succeed, they must deal in reality in all communications with their customers from start to finish.
This means being clear about shipping times and fees, returns and warranties, as well as how you handle customer data.
If you can’t deliver on your promises, it will only result in a loss of trust with your customers, which is difficult to regain once it’s gone.
Furthermore, under-delivering will likely hurt your company’s reputation and could lead to decreased sales in the future.
Here’s a real-life example: a few years ago, an eCommerce brand specializing in home decor goods put a holiday deal on Groupon.
The deal was for a custom-engraved cutting board. The company didn’t correctly anticipate or allocate resources to fulfill the ensuing wave of orders before Christmas (something they promised they’d do on their website).
Rather than stopping orders, they continued accepting payments knowing they couldn’t fulfill their promises.
The result was thousands of angry comments on their social media, a storm of 1-star reviews on Google and Yelp, and even some complaints that escalated to the BBB.
This company saw an opportunity for rapid growth and flew too close to the sun. Now, their reputation will never be the same.
Let this be a cautionary tale for your brand — it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver.
9. Take the Buying Experience Into Account
Customer-centric organizations devote themselves to bettering the buying experience.
They offer delightful conveniences, such as free shipping, fast, easy returns, multiple payment options, and helpful customer service. These touches please customers and ensure they return over and over again.
In addition, they design their websites focusing on the user’s experience. This means incorporating intuitive menus, well-organized product pages, and an overall pleasing layout.
If your website is cumbersome to navigate or the images are grainy, customers will be less likely to purchase.
10. Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Unsurprisingly, customer service is at the core of customer-centricity. For your clients to have a positive experience with your brand and come back as loyal shoppers, you need to have excellent customer service.
This could mean anything from:
- Offering quick and easy returns
- Offering free shipping and handling
- Offering multiple channels of real-time, 24/7 customer support
It’s also essential that you have systems in place so that customer service can handle issues quickly and effectively (canned responses to typical problems, flowcharts, etc.).
That way, customers won’t get frustrated and feel like they wasted their time by reaching out.
11. Encourage a Company Culture that Forges Relationships with Clients
For customer-centricity to truly work, it needs to weave into your company’s culture at every level.
All employees need to be on board with the idea and understand how to provide better customer service.
Whether you’re a sales rep, developer, engineer, or CEO — your primary title when dealing with any outside prospect or customer is “customer service rep.”
Moreover, to keep your customers engaged and happy, you need a company culture that values building relationships with them.
This attitude goes all the way to the hiring process. Customer-centric organizations won’t hire employees who don’t care about serving the customer well — regardless of the position.
Creating an environment where staff members are encouraged to forge lasting bonds is essential towards strengthening client engagement and helping drive eCommerce growth.
While this might sound difficult, a robust customer-centric relationship can begin by simply saying, “Thank you for your business and being a valued customer!” while talking to the client.
Always encourage customer service to verbally express how thankful you are to your customers and their continued business.
Making conversation with clients through targeted small talk lets them know you care and want them to stick around.
It’s also a good idea to audit employee performance, especially at the beginning of your transformation to a more customer-centric organization. Doing so will ensure they can provide stellar customer support regularly.
Many customer service software platforms allow you to record customer rep and prospect interactions for coaching and training purposes.
As you can see, focusing on customer-centricity is an excellent way to help your business achieve eCommerce growth. By turning customers into loyal brand advocates, they will continue doing business with you for years to come — they may even turn out to be your most powerful marketing assets.
SkuVault understands that customers have a large selection of businesses from which to choose.
Therefore, we can help you put customer-centric tools in place to ensure that your company is integrated, connected, and streamlined, making it the top company that clients can continue to do transactions with.
Poor inventory management can be a big obstacle to customer-centricity. If you’re struggling with stock-outs or shipping issues, we’d love to help.
SkuVault acts as a single source of truth for all your inventory management and integrates with all your essential software. That way, you can automate the tedium of inventory management and get back to the high-level tasks of keeping your customers happy.
Contact us online or call and talk to a SkuVault representative today at (502) 795-5491 for a live demo and an in-depth discussion of how we can help.
More FAQs on Customer Centricity
Still curious about customer-centricity? Here are some more frequently asked questions:
What is customer-centricity?
Customer-centricity is the mindset of making customer satisfaction the core motivation and driver of every business decision, system, or process.
Companies can do this by involving every person at every level of the organization and emphasizing customer happiness above everything else.
What are some ways to interact with customers?
Customer-centricity means engaging with customers on all fronts, including:
- In-person (wherever possible)
- Email (check-ins, personalized notes)
- Phone or video communication
Many customer success platforms like Influitive will also help brands set up advocacy programs. These programs reward loyal customers with merch, public recognition, discounts, and more.
What types of tools help create a customer-centric company?
- CRM software
- Marketing automation software
- Inventory management systems that integrate into your eCommerce platform
- Order management software
- Social media monitoring tools
- Transportation management systems
What is the goal of customer-centricity?
Customer-centricity aims to create a company where customers are the focal point and profits, and customer satisfaction rates are high.
By focusing on customer centricity, eCommerce businesses can drive growth, better their reputations, and create brand evangelists.
Is customer-centric just common sense?
Yes and no. It’s good sense, common or otherwise, to use customer-centricity as part of your business plan.
However, success in any facet of business rarely happens by accident. Even though customer-centricity seems like a no-brainer, there are certain aspects of your business you’ll need to change for this focus on the customer to work.
What companies use customer-centricity to drive eCommerce growth?
Some notable companies that use customer-centricity to drive eCommerce growth are Amazon, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines.
For instance, Zappos (acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion) is known for its unrivaled customer service. In fact, they are so committed to it that they are willing to fire employees who do not meet their high standards.
What should you do if your company wants to focus on customer-centricity?
If you want your company to focus on customer-centricity, the first step is to audit every aspect of your business. The goal is to identify any and all areas that don’t prioritize customer happiness — from the engineer’s desk to every pixel on your website.
We fully concede that this is no easy task. But it’s worth it in the end.
These critical business elements should then be improved and continually iterated on to provide exceptional customer support. Further, it’s important to measure and analyze customer satisfaction using tools like Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSATs) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
What are some of the benefits of customer-centricity?
Some benefits of customer-centricity include high profits and customer satisfaction rates, satisfied customers who return again and again, improved employee morale, increased word-of-mouth marketing, and more.
What is the process of becoming customer-centric?
The first step is understanding what customer service is and isn’t. It’s not just responding to complaints or addressing problems as they come up; it’s making sure customers feel appreciated and important at every level of the organization.
The next step is to monitor employee performance to ensure they can consistently provide exceptional customer support. Customer service can then be monitored, along with profits and satisfaction rates, to run the business as efficiently as possible.
What is meant by customer-centric culture?
A customer-centric culture is one where all employees are aware of what customers want, and they work together to provide the best possible experience for every person who interacts with your company.
This means involving everyone at all levels of the organization with customer service training and reframing their identity as customer service professionals first and foremost.
Is there certification for becoming a customer-centric organization?
Unfortunately, there is no certification for becoming a customer-centric organization (maybe there should be). However, several organizations offer training and resources to help businesses focus on the customer.
These organizations include:
- The International Customer Service Association (ICSA)
- The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business (SOCAP)
- The American Marketing Association (AMA
How long does it take to become customer-centric?
Becoming a customer-centric organization can take some time, but it all starts with baby steps.
Here are some helpful ideas to get you started:
- Start studying brands and companies with notoriously strong customer service. What are they doing differently? Bonus points if you can find great examples in your industry
- Start monitoring how your organization responds to difficult customer scenarios. How can you improve your language, tone, and messaging?
- Begin your comprehensive business audit to reveal the obstacles to customer-centricity in your organization.