Shannon Ferley
Shannon Ferley Head: Communications

We are seeing traditional business-driven strategies being passed over in favour of a more customer-focused approach, a trend that is reinforcing the critical role of communications in spurring business growth. Here, we explore what customer-centric communication is about, and what it can do for your organisation.

As 2020 draws near, we’re well and truly in the “Age of the Customer”. End-user experience continues to be the main driver of business ROI and enterprises across the industry are embracing the concept of customer-centricity. We are seeing traditional business-driven strategies being passed over in favour of a more customer-focused approach, a trend that is reinforcing the critical role of communications in spurring business growth. Here, we explore what customer-centric communication is about, and what it can do for your organisation.

Understanding the customer-centric approach

The financial benefits of customer-centric strategies are clear: international research by customer science firm Dunnhumby found that the top quarter of customer-centric retailers increased their sales by 3% on average, with their market share growing by 7% from 2015 to 2016.

But what is the definition of customer-centric? It’s about more than just making customers happy. It’s essential that all departments in a business understand customer needs and desires and put in place strategies, internal and external, to satisfy them.

The seven pillars of customer-centricity outlined by the American Marketing Association provide a useful framework for understanding and action, helping businesses to deliver the kind of customer experience that ensures long-term loyalty.

Create an excellent experience

Customers share their experiences, and if the one you offer is easy and pleasant, they’ll pass on the positive interaction to their friends, families and social networks. Today’s customer is increasingly mobile and connected and expects businesses to always be available. These digital consumers demand the best, at the best rate, and want companies to understand that their buying process is not necessarily a linear one. Your business needs to  provide an excellent experience at all stages in the customer’s journey and in all forms of communications.

Reward loyalty

Loyalty programmes are great, but only if they reward customers in a way that is meaningful to them. Offering discounts on products they never use isn’t a recipe for success; companies need to increase their understanding of customers by leveraging available data – something that requires seamless communications between departments.

Personalise communications

The days of impersonal email blasts are over. Customers expect tailored messages based on their previous purchases and interactions with your company. Highly successful enterprises take note of what their customers want to hear, and in what format, and provide customised, relevant communications based on their preferences.

Offer the right range and variety

Again, this is about understanding what customers want. More is not always better; you don’t need to have a massive range of products and services – just a decent variety of the ones that customers need. Customer-centric retailers are starting to simplify and optimise their offerings based on advanced customer data. Selling higher volumes from fewer lines makes good economic sense as it translates to lower prices and better all-round value.

Use promotions

Offering customers extra value for money is a great way to build brand affinity, but only if the products and services on promotion are what they actually need. Promote the items that are most important to your customers (again, based on customer data) to see how effective this pillar of customer-centricity can be in driving business growth.

Price fairly

It’s essential that businesses price their offerings in a way that is perceived as fair by customers. You don’t have to be the price leader in your field, just reasonable – and this should be reflected in communications.

Be open to feedback

Organisations that listen to their customers and recognise their concerns lead the way in the move towards customer-centric communications. When customers feel like they are not heard, they take their business elsewhere.

What you must do differently to be more customer-centric

Whether you’ve embraced the need to become a more customer-centred operation or if it’s still something your organisation is thinking about, then you have to embark on a journey of internal transformation. Shifting from a product-oriented view to one focused on the customer necessitates breaking down departmental silos and reforming  attitudes, processes and technologies for better engagement and collaboration.

Customer-centric approaches to business are facilitated by customer-centric communication strategies. Enterprises are being called on to evolve and become as connected and digitally savvy as their customers. Seamless communication capabilities are essential for this to happen. Onboarding communication technologies that allow fast and easy communications across multiple media and technologies, and an increased access to information (and with it, the scope for better personalisation and collaboration), is the key to sustained business growth.

For a closer look at building customer-centric communications, take a look at our guide on unified communications at the heart of business growth.

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