Customer experience is an effective differentiation strategy. The customer centric strategy can deliver strategic and economic value to a business. The main reason is it’s difficult copy by competitors without changing the way they do business.
If you’re interested in applying this competitive strategy for your business learn how to actually design and build a customer centric business online. Here are the 5 steps:
1. Choose Your Primary Customer
Being a customer-centric means understanding who the primary customer is and then aligns all company resources to serve that master. Depending on your size and your industry you might serve more than one types of customer.
Amazon is a good example. It has 4 types of customers: consumers, sellers, content creators and developers. And the company decided to focus on serving consumers as their primary customer because they are aligned with its mission “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”.
Now take a look at your customer and your strategy. If you serve two or more types of customers choose one that aligns with your company’s mission, capabilities and that offers longer term profitability than the others.
2. Identify Their Needs
If you own past data on your primary customer’s behaviors you can segment them based on profitability, purchases and others. But if you’re just starting out, try to sketch the narrowly defined ideal customer with demographics information.
The idea is to collect as much data as possible about your customer. One way is to closely monitor relevant discussions online. Joining the conversations can lead you to discovering their needs, especially if they are willing to share bad experiences with a competitor.
If your site has gained significant traffic you can check your web analytics data to understand your visitors’ behaviors. Alternatively, you can also buy “off-the-shelf” research about your industry’s buying habits and preferences.
3. Create Your Offerings
A great customer centric company places products and/or services as part of total offerings. They transform their offerings from product and/or service based to solution based. To understand how this works let’s have a look at Amazon again as our case study.
Amazon has used technology to track a customer’s past purchases and browsing behavior to tailor product offerings the next time he or she goes back to Amazon. It’s clear that Amazon tries to learn about the customer and provides “advisory” services as a way to provide a personalized shopping experience.
You can adapt the Amazon case study and choose the right business model for your specific industry and offerings. Reduced costs, improved productivity, expert advice are some ideas to differentiate your offerings. Just make sure your value proposition is unique and difficult to copy.
4. Set Up Your Control Systems
Customer preferences, technology and other competitive environment are a moving target. You need to build control system and technology that allow you to manage your business performances and changes in the market.
A weekly management meeting to discuss key financial and operating metrics such as revenue growth and customer experience index, followed up with an action plan, is one of them.
You can also set up a separate meeting if the changes are significant –especially primary customer changes– and may affect your strategy.
But those activities would be worthless without reliable data collection using marketing automation tools like CRM, which are integrated with other company’s systems. Only with a clear vision, relevant metrics and reliable systems you’re ready to create a customer intimacy business.
5. Create a Customer-Obsessed Culture
It all starts with how your employees perform at all touchpoints. If they are well-trained and are equipped with relevant information for their specific jobs chances are they will provide customer experience up to your company’s standard.
If that wasn’t the case, find out whether the causes are strategic or operational issues.
Unclear philosophy about customer and key values to make it a reality are strategic issues. But different level of customer satisfaction index found at different point of contact is an operational problem.
Make sure your company’s staff and resource allocation aligns with the culture you’re building. A customer focused strategy should be executed with the right business processes and customer-obsessed, cross-functional teamwork.
Building a customer centric business needs strong commitment and hard work. But many researchers have shown us that it’s a proven strategy for differentiation and, of course, for success in business.
If you’re an aspiring business owner who wants to start an internet business or an entrepreneur seeking help for growing your business online…
…make sure you build an online business with a customer centric strategy.