You’ve heard the phrase, ‘the customer is always right.’ Whether or not that’s actually true is open to debate; but the fact is, in our modern and digital age, the customer must always, without exception come first – or, at least, they should always come first. That ethos is at the core of the way a customer-centric organisation operates. It’s all about providing an outstanding customer experience at every interaction, anticipating users’ needs, desires, motivations and pain points to ensure that they are always the primary focus. By defining customer relationship management (CRM) in these terms, customer-centric companies generate long-lasting business, cultivate invaluable loyalty, deliver long-term growth and yield outstanding ROI.
The modern consumer is a ‘digital native’ – born in the age of the internet, surrounded by “ubiquitous technology,” intuitively capable of using computerised and digitally-encoded systems. In an Econsultancy survey asking companies what are the most important characteristics in building a digital native culture, ‘customer-centricity’ ranked first, with 58%. Despite this, only 14% of marketers cite customer-centric strategies as characteristic of their company (CMO Council). Clearly, there is room for enterprises to improve; this is especially true within retail, where a customer-centric mindset is second-to-none for operational effectiveness.
One of the fastest and most cost-effective ways of building customer-centricity is through the implementation of modern technology solutions like our VCC (Virtual Contact Centre) into your ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. In this blog post, we’ll explore the customer-centric approach in more detail, and illustrate the ways our VCC can help you achieve it.
What is Customer-centric Culture?
According to Gartner, customer-centricity refers to:
“the ability of people in an organization to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations. Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
In other words, customer-centricity is a business perspective that places customer needs and concerns at the front and centre of operations. The idea is that, with the operational emphasis placed on customer-centric best practices, the company will be able to deliver a positive customer experience at every stage of the user’s journey. By doing so, customer loyalty and satisfaction will increase. This leads to valuable customer feedback and informs future communication, advertising and marketing tactics – both for current and prospective customers.
In the modern era, with so many digital channels to maintain, cultivating customer-centricity is increasingly challenging; yet more important than ever before. It is through the implementation of a virtual contact centre that companies can take control and optimise their customer focus.
Why is Customer-centricity Essential for a Company?
One simple necessity dominates the thinking and strategies of all businesses – the need to acquire and retain customers. It is essential for the survival of all organisations.
And, in a manner of speaking, this in itself explains the enterprise importance of customer-centricity. If a business fails to think about its customers, it will make the wrong decisions; this will drive away current customers and dissuade potential new ones; revenue streams will dry up, and operations will become increasingly difficult to sustain until the business, eventually, fails.
Customer-centric thinking, on the other hand, ensures the above scenario doesn’t play out. An organisation adopts a perspective that emphasises the customer journey, and uses this to facilitate great customer service – consequently, customer outcomes are invariably positive, satisfactory or rewarding. This makes it far easier to retain existing customers, and the useful word-of-mouth benefits will help to solidify future activities.
Metrics to Measure Your Customer-centricity
For a chief customer officer, there are a number of important customer-centric metrics that can be used to illuminate current effectiveness and opportunities for improvement:
- Customer lifetime value (CLV): This figure indicates the customer value represented by the average user over the course of their purchasing lifetime. For a consumer to make a one-time purchase is a good start; but clearly, for that customer to come back time and again for repeat business is seriously excellent news. It’s for this reason that some customer-centric organisations actually choose to acquire new customers at a loss, or for minimal profit – if the company executives can be confident of ongoing business with that user, the decision becomes a savvy investment.
- Net promoter score (NPS): Your net promoter score evaluates customer satisfaction, happiness and loyalty by asking one simple question: “based on your experience with [insert company], how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Respondents select a likelihood rating from one to ten. A score of 9-10 indicates a ‘promoter’, or a user who is a strong brand loyalist and very likely to refer others. Answers between 7-8 are known as ‘passive’, or customers who are content with but not overly delighted by their experience. The NPS danger zone is a score of 0-6; these users are ‘detractors’, and are likely to damage your brand reputation by sharing a negative experience.
- Churn rate: It takes five times as much effort to acquire a new customer, as it does to retain an existing one (Forbes); this is the reason why so many businesses focus on reducing the number of users who abandon the brand. This number is known as the churn rate. A lack of empathy towards customer needs in the company culture, strategy and marketing mean that the business is essentially not understanding or listening to the users it is hoping to serve. Such knowledge is irreplaceable in developing the soft skills of customer-facing employees and it has a positive impact on organisational culture. Inevitably in outcome-based business relationships, neglecting the user can only lead to poorer-quality products and strategies that damage the customer experience.
How to Build a Customer-centric Strategy with a Virtual Contact Centre
Hopefully by this point, you’ll be able to answer the question: “is customer-centricity important?” in the affirmative. Whether you’re a retailer, a business operating in any other sector such as charity or construction, or even a public entity, you can begin transforming your organisation into a customer-centric brand by implementing a cloud-based virtual contact centre. Read on for the five ways a specialised system like our VCC can make this a reality.
1. Reduce your operational costs
Moving your contact centre to the cloud and implementing future-proof solutions into your ERP system will dramatically cut down on the costs needed to deliver an outstanding customer experience. Compared to a traditional contact centre, a VCC is incredibly cost-efficient with extremely low upfront costs.
There is no need to maintain or purchase equipment and hardware, for instance, and these are savings that can be passed on to cloud-based customer-centric marketing. Moreover, not only does a VCC have all the features and functions of a traditional contact centre, it operates with far greater efficiency, and this dramatically increases the productivity levels your organisation is able to achieve.
2. Ensure sensitive customer data is totally secure
This being the digital age, where vast quantities of private and potentially harmful information is communicated through multiple channels, the pressure is on for organisations to guarantee the security of any and all private customer information. With traditional contact centres, this is a practical impossibility; no organisation can truly mitigate against the risk of data theft, and that’s to say nothing about the possibility of unforeseen circumstances, such as flooding or the loss of documents.
But the security of a virtual contact centre can bring peace of mind to both you and your users. Our VCC security infrastructure, for instance, is accredited with both ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certification. We’re aligned with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, so customers and users alike can confidently utilise your services.
3. Integrate seamlessly with your current systems
Implementing a virtual contact centre and making the switch to customer-centricity doesn’t mean taking your operations back to the drawing board and restarting from scratch – in fact, quite the opposite. Whatever your chosen CRM software – Zendesk, Dynamics, Salesforce, or any other system – moving your contact centre to the cloud allows you to integrate painlessly with whichever CRM you operate.
This massively accelerates the onboarding and training processes for your staff, as there are no clunky new technologies or unwieldy UIs for them to learn their way around; everything fits together, meaning your old and new systems dovetail seamlessly. Moreover, smart CRM integrations greatly decrease the amount of time needed to roll out the new system. There’s no need for expensive hardware or lengthy installations, and you can have the new contact centre up and running in a matter of days – or even hours.
4. Join the digital era with truly omnichannel connectivity
The days of communicating with customers solely via phone, or long-winded email back-and-forths, are well and truly gone. In our hyperconnected world of communication, with multiple contact options available to a user at any given moment, your customers expect the freedom to pick and choose their preferred channel. What’s more, from the customer’s perspective, it should be a standard operating practice to pick up the journey where they left off, as they shift between channels. The customer’s journey will quickly become a frustrating and negative experience if they’re required to constantly give their name and address, or input login details, for example.
Omnichannel flexibility is something you’ll be able to shout about in your marketing with a virtual contact centre. Our VCC, for instance, allows staff to cater to all your users’ communication preferences, whether that’s VoIP, web chat, email, SMS or social media – not forgetting the old-fashioned telephone, of course, and with the ability to switch to a human sales rep at any time.
5. Inform your decision-making with actionable insights
Data learnings are the driving force behind efficiency gains. Whereas with a traditional contact centre you’d have, at best, surface-level statistics to leverage – or in the worst scenario, absolutely no performance monitoring at all, leading to a ‘hit and hope’ strategy – once you implement a virtual contact centre, you open a new world of insight into customer behaviour. It becomes easy, for example, to define clear customer segments, and identify which are your most loyal customers; these are the audiences you’d aim to funnel more of your resources to, as they likely represent a higher CLV. This is just one example of the data-backed strategising you’ll be able to execute with a virtual contact centre.
Best Practices for Becoming a Customer-centric Company
Though the business benefits and positive outcomes of customer-centric culture are clear to see, we understand that it may, for some enterprises, seem a daunting task to introduce an entirely new mindset to operations. A total sea change is, by nature, difficult to affect; and so, as a jumping-off point, we’ve pulled together some top-level best practices you can look to implement, to start the journey and kick off your customer relationship training.
- Firstly, remember that making smart hires doesn’t necessarily mean hiring the cheapest possible candidates. Smart hires are about identifying service team members with the soft skills, technical acumen, emotional intelligence, clear communication, depth of knowledge and other key skills that mean they’ll be able to grow with your operations, laying a truly future-proof foundation.
- It’s equally important to prioritise human relationships with your customers. Don’t fall into the trap of seeing users as just numbers on a screen. Customers are, above all else, humans, and active listening will allow you to nurture mutually-beneficial, outcome-based business relationships.
- That’s not to say you should neglect customer data – statistical insight is the fuel that drives business transformation. As with many things, balance is key. Establishing a CRM database can help gain a valuable understanding of the purchasing mind of your key users.
- The companies most successfully aligned with customer-centricity connect their enterprise culture to customer outcomes. This means drawing a clear link for staff between customer-centric activities and business benefits, and more importantly, how those benefits feed into staff members’ opportunity for growth and personal development.
Our VCC: Putting the Customer First, Every Time
With a staggering 88% of consumers willing to defect to a business competitor if your organisation and staff aren’t customer-centric (Business 2 Community), the need to optimise the customer’s experience and place the user at the front and centre of your operations is more pressing now than ever before. Business environments are competitive, and the ability to create meaningful experiences for users is something that all organisations live and die by. In this way, it isn’t an overstatement to say that customer-centricity isn’t so much a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have, and a matter of survival.
Luckily, though it probably won’t happen overnight, building customer-centricity is a realistic and achievable goal for all businesses – if they create the conditions for it to flourish. That involves implementing some future-proof, cloud-based, omnichannel software infrastructure, such as a virtual contact centre. At Call Handling, our VCC is our flagship product, providing communications solutions that are made-to-measure for your staff and your business. We’re capable of an impressively rapid setup with no installation downtime, and our system is limitlessly scalable to match your long-term goals.
Maximise your communications, and significantly boost the CLV of your users with a customer-centric approach. Book a demo today to find out how our VCC can take your communications to the next level.