How to become a customer-centric brand
Is your company product-centric? Creating products that you hope consumers will buy? Okay, that could be where you’re going wrong. Customer-centric brands put the customer at the heart of their business. Creating a customer experience that’ll keep them happy, and eager to promote your brand. Remember? The customer is always right...
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What does customer-centric mean?
Brands that are customer-centric follow a strategy that puts the customer first, at the heart of the business. They provide a positive customer experience - CX - and build long-term relationships with customers. They listen to the voice of the customer, and activate it in real time to drive meaningful decisions across their organization.
“Today’s consumers expect brands to meet them where they are, with empathy, and a shared set of values. Conversational Intelligence is the key to unlocking meaningful customer relationships by understanding what customers are saying, where they are saying it and why.
Cara Buscaglia | Chief Innovation & Insights Officer @ Talkwalker | State of Conversation 2021 Report
Combine this methodology with customer relationship management - CRM - and you’ll gather valuable consumer insights that’ll give you the complete picture of your customers. These actionable insights will help you…
- Understand consumer buying behavior, interests, preferences, and pain points to focus on customer needs and expectations
- Collect feedback to improve service and product development
- Create a personalized customer experience
- Target customers with the potential to churn
Why being customer-centric is important
If you fail to get consumers to buy your product, your brand will fail.
A 2021 study by IBM Institute for Business Value found that 72% of top performing brands are customer focused. Listening to what people want is the only way you’ll develop a product that sells. A customer-centric brand activates the voice of the customer, and reacts. Building products that consumers want, anticipating their needs, helping solve their pain points, winning brand loyalists and advocates.
How to become a customer-centric brand
It’d be hard to become a customer-centric brand overnight. It takes time and effort. But, without a customer-centric culture, your business will fail to meet your goals and objectives. If you don’t put consumers at the heart of your company, you’re ignoring the people that’ll make you a success.
Be better. Be customer obsessed.
Your company culture has to be focused on your customers’ success, not your own.
- Never forget that consumers are human
Yes, you’re going to use analytics to understand their comments, and AI-powered sentiment analysis to read their emotions, but conversation should be human, personalized.
- Democratize customer data
Centralize all the data and insights you gather about your customers and prospects, so your entire team has access. This will ensure everyone in your organization speaks with one voice.
Anticipate customer needs
In 2020, the world stayed home. Brands able to react quickly, accelerated their digital transformation, anticipating customer needs. We wanted, needed, to buy online. The e-commerce industry led from the front, with many brands stepping up their game and launching online stores.
For instance, PepsiCo acted quickly and adapted its strategy, opening two direct-to-consumer sites. Recognizing that consumers would be relying on online sales.
According to its quarterly earnings it achieved a 5% increase in sales.
PepsiCo launched Snacks.com and PantryShop.com, increasing it’s revenue and generating positive online conversations, by anticipating customer needs.
Talkwalker Analytics word cloud reveals the top 25 adjectives associated with PepsiCo’s e-commerce sites.
Be accessible & approachable
Don’t be one of those brands that hides their customer support email and phone number.
I know it’s a pain. I know it’s time consuming and takes a huge bite out of your budget. But, if a customer has a problem, they’re already stressed, possibly angry. Making them hunt down your contact details is going to exacerbate the issue.
And, we all know what people do when they’re unhappy with a brand? Hit social media.
Ensure your Contact Us page is easy to find. Provide FAQs. Monitor social media, forums, etc., and jump in with customer support.
Now, I’m not suggesting that CEOs should join the customer support team, but take a look at this example of a brand proving that it’s accessible and approachable.
Put the kids in the rear of my in-laws' Tesla S & went for a 20 min drive. Air was set as cold as possible, but the kids were dehydrated & drenched in sweat after the drive. Turns out there's no air circulation back there.@elonmusk Any ideas? Love the car, but that's dangerous— Matthew Feinman (@mattfeinman) March 6, 2018
A Telsa customer tweeted a complaint about his kids overheating in the back of his car, asking Elon Musk for help. He responded. Yes, Elon Musk personally responded, and it’s not the first time that the Tesla CEO has responded in person.
If there is anyone in the third row, turn off air recirculation. Third row cooling happens by air entering from the front and exiting through the vents in the rear bumper.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2018
Collect customer feedback
Innovative brands working towards a 100% customer-centric strategy are collecting data from multiple sources - including email, social media, forums and message boards, chatbots, Facebook Messenger, phone calls, SMS, call center transcripts, etc.
- Social intelligence about your brand, campaigns, and competitor data.
- Consumer intelligence identifying growth opportunities and risks in the market by analyzing category, audience, and current trends.
- Customer intelligence covering your customers' experience, satisfaction, and service.
You must identify the voice of the customer across your social, consumer, and customer data, and activate it in real time across all teams in your organization. The data you collect will drive your content marketing and messaging, produce development, PR, R&D, and more.
- Increase revenue - more sales, higher lifetime value - LTV, better marketing ROI
- Increase customer retention - customer satisfaction - CSAT - score, drivers, etc.
- Reduce costs - operational efficiencies, reporting, economies of scale on data, measurement, analytics
Journey to 360° customer-centricity - drive revenue, increase retention, save costs.
Customer research is crucial for a customer-centric business. Check out the following research methods...
Do you truly know your customers? What they like, don’t like? Their challenges, preferences, pain points?
To gather this vital information, conduct customer satisfaction surveys and analyze the results to find actionable insights to drive your customer-centric business strategy.
Your entire company loves your new website. There were some navigational issues at the start. Conversions dropped. A few broken links. But, now it’s perfect.
Did you get it tested by users? I don’t mean your team, that’s been using it every day and knows how to get around various sticking points. Did you get people unfamiliar with your site to test it? Because, that’s the only way to test it effectively.
User testing can apply to your website, products, services, etc. If you want to be customer-centric, this method will steer your assets towards a seamless customer experience.
To understand whether your CX strategy is working or not, you need to monitor customer experience metrics regularly.
Quick, real-time feedback can be collected via your social media channels…
- Measure engagement level
Find the most popular posts by tracking social mentions, shares, comments, and likes. Not only will you be able to understand the needs of your target audience, you’ll have inspiration for future social posts.
- Monitor your brand’s image and reputation
Track reviews of your brand, products, and services to identify the level of customer loyalty and trust towards your brand. Analyze the evolution of your brand sentiment to monitor your brand health in real time.
- Create polls
Social media networks allow you to set up polls so you can ask questions. Make it fun, educational, interesting and you’ll encourage responses and increase engagement, plus understand what consumers are looking for.
Pick up the phone
I know. How very retro.
A good marketing strategy - a customer-centric marketing strategy - is all about personalization. And, there’s nothing more personal than calling someone, rather than texting or emailing. Plus, you’ll get real-time feedback, and the ability to shift your questions depending on the responses you receive.
Did you know you could mine the data from your call centers to have an even better picture of your customer across different channels?
Give customer support with added value
Once a customer has bought your product, what do you do? High five your team and move onto the next sale? Or, are you already a customer-centric brand?
Consumers give you their hard earned cash for your product. They expect more than a wave as they leave your store. Or an email saying thanks. And, if you want them to return and hand over more cash in the future, you have to give them more.
Consumer-centric customer service should provide added value, so they’re supported, even after purchase.
For instance, we send a Tip of the Week email to our customers, with advice on how to get the best out of our enterprise listening platform. We also provide a Digital Excellence Center, which provides our clients with…
- Details about our products
- Resources - webinars, customer case studies, reports
- Tip of the Week
- Feature releases
- How to videos
- FAQs, and more
Talkwalker’s Digital Excellence Center provides proactive customer support.
Supporting your customers with these kinds of resources means that they are able to solve problems on their own if they choose. It also means that the feedback you receive from customers will help you improve your support services.
Another example of customer-centricity is brands that provide pricing pages. While some brands think it’s a good idea to hide their prices, as they may scare consumers off, the price page usually receives a high volume of traffic.
If a consumer visits your price page, they’re considering a purchase. Don’t lose them with a poor buying experience, by hiding your fees.
Use customer support tools
A customer-centric brand will give consumers a positive purchasing experience. Doesn’t matter how good your product is, if consumers struggle when trying to buy your product, they’re going to bounce to one of your competitors.
Let’s talk about chatbots. Consumer-centric brands streamline, adopt user-friendly systems, and help people on their buying journey. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, chatbots provide 24/7 customer support, an improved payment experience - self-checkout kiosks, digital payment technology, and fun - you gotta make it fun.
A few years back, Domino’s Pizza introduced us to ‘Dom’, it’s Facebook Messenger chatbot. Keeping it simple, you simply type “PIZZA”, and guess what… Cheese fans can read the whole menu directly from in Messenger, and then track their order.
Customer-centric brands use chatbots to create a smooth customer experience.
Increase customer retention
The Harvard Business Review states that acquiring new customers costs from five to 25 times more than keeping an existing one. By increasing your customer retention rate by 5%, you’ll increase profits by 25 to 95%.
Yes, you want consumers to buy your products, but in an ideal world, you want them to come back again, and again. How?
Added benefits such as loyalty programs will strengthen customer loyalty and increase customer retention. Loyalty clubs or reward programs have proven successful in winning customers, and keeping them. Customer-centric brands such as Sephora, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and H&M already have popular programs.
It's here!!! The long awaited H&M Loyalty Program has finally arrived! 🙌❤️🎉✨ Check out the details and sign up to get your 20%! https://t.co/TmOcbM36Lp pic.twitter.com/xid3p7LtFu— H&M USA (@hmusa) May 16, 2019
Offer an onboarding process
A customer-centric organization continues to support their customers, after a purchase has been made. This ongoing process ensures that customers get the most out of your product, and encourages them to come back and spend some more.
We offer our customers an onboarding program - The Mountain Climber Hike - that not only helps them get the most out of our social listening platform, but introduces them to new features.
Training program to help users master the Talkwalker platform, at their own pace. Navigation of the UI/UX interface, and understanding basic/advanced features.
How to measure the success of a customer-centric brand
There are four customer-centric metrics that should be monitored, to prove whether you’re winning or not. Net Promoter Score®, churn, brand health, and customer lifetime value - CLV. There are other metrics, but these are the most important…
Net Promoter Score® - NPS
Do you know whether customers are happy with your brand? Net Promoter Score® measures customer loyalty, and the process is so simple. You ask one question…
“How likely is it that you’d recommend Brand X to a friend or colleague?”
Told you it was simple.
Customers will score the brand on a scale of 0 - unlikely to 10 - very likely. You can then categorize based on a predefined criteria…
- Promoters - 9 to 10
These customers are in love with your brand, and will recommend to other consumers. They’re repeat customers, and will remain loyal to your brand. On social media, they can become influencers, or share positive user-generated content.
- Passives - 7 to 8
They’re content with your brand, but won’t actively recommend or criticize. Faced with a better offer, they’re likely to jump ship.
- Detractors - 0 to 6
Customers that view your brand negatively, share bad reviews, post social media messages with complaints, etc. They won’t be recommending your brand, and have the potential to damage your reputation.
“How likely is it that you’d recommend Brand X to a friend or colleague?”
Winning new customers isn’t easy, becoming harder every day, as more brands flood the market.
With 65% of a company’s business coming from existing customers, a customer-centric approach is to encourage customers to stay. To reduce churn.
To improve retention rates, you must understand why you’ve customers that are staying, and why some are leaving.
Customers will leave a brand if…
- Support is hard to find, slow to respond, unfriendly, non-existent
- There’s no automated help - knowledge base, FAQs, chatbot
- There’s no onboarding program to help customers learn
Once you understand why customers are shifting to your competitors, you can work out your churn rate by measuring the number of customers who left during the last 12 month period, and divide by the average number of total customers during the same period.
Real-time brand health analysis
Your website, social media, reviews, forums, etc., are where consumers find your brand and interact, buy your products, and share their opinions. It's critical that you collect feedback data from all these sources, to measure sentiment analysis.
Talkwalker Analytics identifies emotions associated with the after purchase stage.
Identifying changes in consumer sentiment gives you the competitive edge, and if you find negative feedback, you can resolve issues and prevent a potential PR crisis that could damage your brand's reputation.
In 2020, the customer lifecycle journey was predominantly a digital experience. We shifted online for work, shopping, talking to friends and family, and interactions with brands. Customer-centric brands quickly recognized the importance of creating a great customer experience at every touchpoint.
Walking in a consumer's shoes gives you a deep understanding of the customer experience. Sentiment analysis will analyze customer feedback at scale, revealing customer expectations so you can anticipate changes to the customer sentiment before an issue becomes detrimental to brand health.
US brand, Impossible Foods, introduced their plant-based meat products to supermarkets in Hong Kong and Singapore in 2020.
While conversations around the topic remain low, compared to levels in other parts of the world, sentiment has been consistently high - 23% positive vs 4.3% negative.
Sentiment drivers around Impossible Foods and its products over a 30 day period.
Customer lifetime value
Without your customer base, you’re nothing.
Building long-term relationships with customers encourages loyalty. To measure the health of your relationship, use customer lifetime value - CLV.
This metric measures the amount of revenue a customer brings to your brand, while they’re a customer. From the first time they buy your product, to when they stop.
Add up the revenue earned from a customer (annual revenue multiplied by the average customer lifespan). Then take away the initial cost of acquiring them.
For example, if a customer spends $15000 per year, and the average customer lifespan for your business is 10 years, multiply $15000 by 10 = 150,000. Then subtract the cost of acquisition.
A customer-centric brand develops products, services, features, processes, policies and a culture that’ll support customers with an efficient, seamless, and fun customer experience. From the first time they land on your website or in your store, to the first point of purchase, to the next purchase, and the next.
Do you consider yourself a customer-centric brand?
The first step to becoming a customer-centric brand is listening to consumers and activating the voice of the customer. A conversational intelligence platform will help you build an online community, understand what consumers want, and build long-term relationships.
Download our free - simulated - consumer intelligence dashboard, and see what you could be missing…