5 best practices to create a profitable customer-centric small business
“A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste.” - Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder.
With the changes in the marketing landscape, in particular, in the way customers interact and engage with businesses and brands nowadays, it is more important than ever to be up to date with creative and innovative ways in which we could train our business DNA to become more customer-centric.
Social media platforms are constantly evolving, new digital technologies are appearing and customer’s centric brands whether big or small are training customers to ask for more, to expect more.
A recent survey carried out by SAP Australia, showed that customers are expecting an individual experience, designed to their specific needs and pain points. Also, they highlighted that customers who received a great experience from a particular industry, are expecting the same from a different industry. For example, if John buys a new car from his local dealership and the overall experience from making the appointment to driving his car is easy and exceptional, John wants the same experience when he thinks of making an appointment to speak to his local bank about a business loan.
Customers are simply expecting more. They want your business to know them personally and they want all channels and touchpoints with you to connect emotionally with them and speak their language.
Customer-centric companies are ‘60% more profitable compared to companies that are not empathetic towards the customer.’ So how can your business be more customer-centric and make your new and existing customers want you over your competition? Below are a few ways in how to climb the customer-centric ladder and not die trying.
1. Leaders must lead by example.
Customer-centricity (CC) needs to be either embraced by top management or lead by the top. Ensuring employees are brought on the CC journey is key to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the customer. Business owners and leaders should be doing some field work with customers, asking them for feedback and input into new services and introducing their information to the rest of the business in specific meetings where customer improvements can be discussed openly and creatively.
2. Have an outside in approach vs an inside out approach.
In other words, understand your customers’ pain points, challenges and fears first before developing your products, services and strategies. It sounds counterintuitive, but the reality is, the majority of businesses develop expensive campaigns, websites and Facebook Ads without asking their customers for feedback, and are left feeling frustrated about a lack of Return on Investment (ROI). A simple starting point is to begin to use the words your customers use, not the ones you use, and confirm where they are at in the purchase journey so you can provide information and content that resonates.
3. Omni-channel is not reserved for the big guys.
It’s easier than ever to provide a seamless and consistent omni-channel experience to your customers across all of your digital and non-digital channels. If your website hasn’t been updated in over two years, it probably needs some digital TLC as customers have very likely changed and are now wanting a different experience from you. Having a responsive site is key here, so if this isn’t happening in your business and your website is key to driving sales, then you need to engage with a web developer as soon as possible.
4. Segment, segment, segment.
If you feel your database is not yet segmented and you are sending the same email to all of your customers, STOP. Your retention and open rates will dramatically increase if your content speaks to your customers based on their particular needs. If you are running a clothing business for children, for example, don’t you want to know if the mums or dads buying from you are interested in baby clothes or boys’ and girls’ outfits? Platforms like MailChimp, Salesforce or ActiveCampaign can help you get started with creating personal and segmented content for your email campaigns based on your segmentation. Also, it’s recommended to separate prospects, leads, clients and churn customers into different segments so you can develop personalised sales journeys and emails to these audiences.
5. Focus on your existing customers.
Research from Marketing Metrics shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70% vs the probability of selling to a new prospect which is 5-20%. Ensure you are providing a tremendous customer experience to your existing database.
Understand your sales funnel and journey maps well by asking your existing customers and validating your thinking, and then provide the experience that most resonates with their needs and your business goals.
Take a moment and ask yourself: “Has the focus in my business been on my customers, or on my business?” If the answer is, your customers, great. If not, it’s never too late to get started and take little steps to improve your business bottom line by truly delivering an experience that feels unique and memorable to your customers.
About the contributor:
Ale Wiecek is the founder of Sqr One, a Brisbane-based customer experience consultancy dedicated to helping businesses design marketing strategies that are customer-centric as it core. Ale’s unique set of skills across marketing, omni-channel, digital transformation and creative thinking has provided her with the tools support small to large organisations that want to be at the frontier of running a purpose-driven, innovative and empathic business. Ale, holds a MA in Marketing and a BA in Marketing and Communications, and has more than 16 years’ experience working for brands such as Microsoft, Siemens, OPSM and Bayer in Australia and the UK. Sqr One donates 25% of their profits to organisations that improve society via innovation and education.