“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” There’s nothing more accurate than that customer-centric philosophy from Microsoft founder Bill Gates. After all, the main reason for running a company is for profit and market share. Without customers, you can’t achieve your business goals.
While other things will come into play, such as your company’s culture and market dynamics, how satisfied customers are will have the biggest impact on whether a business succeeds.
So, how do you transform your company into a customer-centric business? It starts with making decisions with customers’ needs in mind. Let’s explore how you can accomplish this.
Understand what’s driving the consumer choices
Customer behavior and expectations are constantly changing. For this reason, companies need big data analysis with an anthropological approach to understand consumer behavior. These insights enable business leaders to go beyond research findings, which are driven by an over-reliance on conscious, rational and explicit memories.
Your company will have to understand what’s driving consumer choices to fulfill the customer’s needs.
Evaluate environments to seek new market opportunity
One of the biggest challenges companies face is related to new market trends. But these also have been a source of contempt for many companies who want to capitalize on opportunities.
During the pandemic, we saw accelerated behaviors leading to new customer habits. For example, new spending habits on technology that allowed us to connect, shop, play and work.
A new environment means that companies need to evaluate their assumptions about the market and find new opportunities in customer engagement, channels and products/services.
The major problem is collecting data without a strategy. Rather than collect data for the sake of it, companies should tie an organizational goal to the data they are after.
Use innovation sprints to select, test, implement ideas
Once you understand the driving force behind consumer choices, you can move ahead to creating products to meet this demand.
The best way to get your product or service ideas out there is through calculated tests. Testing in cycles and receiving feedback from actual customer test groups will improve your products.
Also, you will have a ready group of brand ambassadors to propel your brand forward once you push the product to market.
In my recent podcast interview, Chuck Dougherty, former CEO of Hardinge, reinforced the benefit of testing products and services before pushing them out. Doing so meant that Hardinge products had a strong engagement at the very start, before commercialization.
“We had strong customer engagement at the very, very early stages before there were any commercial commitments in the development of new technologies, new products that were successful because there was the shared ownership of that idea with an anchor customer or customers,” he said.
Qualitative data can give you more insights into customers’ behavior than quantitative data can.
Align your goals and strategies to metrics
Metrics are an essential factor for your business. These metrics communicate desired performance levels and provide direction for all team members. In addition, metrics help quantify your business’ performance. Set clear goals around market or customer strategy with assigned key stakeholders.
Have the customers in mind when designing the metrics. Being customer-centric in strategy formulation ensures that you focus on delivering value instead of just ticking off an achieved metric. It provides organizational boundaries, empathy for customers and better outcomes
If becoming the top of your industry is your goal, creating a customer-centric company is imperative. It all comes together when you start making decisions anchored in customer understanding. By following this approach, you are in a better position to create a sustainable advantage, win your customers’ loyalty and, of course, meet your business goals.
Bella Rushi is an innovation management consultant and founder of Symmetri Consulting, which specializes in helping business leaders prioritize and align organizations for efficient innovation. Rushi is the author of ”The Innovative Executive: Leading Intelligently in the Age of Disruption” and host of ”The Innovative Executive” podcast.
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