The CXM team gathered many articles on the importance of CX in today’s world. With this comprehensive guide, we further develop that initiative by providing expert tips on developing a customer-first mindset. Following the economical and societal uncertainty, most brands now recognize the need to invest in customer experience, but some still fail to do it right.
For that reason, CXM reflects on the importance of a customer-centric approach within an organization and offers guidance in the matter. We are here to support you every step of the way and fill the gaps you may have in basic CX terms and practices!
What does customer-first mean?
If anything has become clear during the pandemic, it’s that customers desire exceptional experiences above all else. In fact, we can say that the last two years opened up the doors to CX for all those who might have neglected it in the past.
With the increase in customer demand, brands all across the globe have begun to realize the big impact consumer experience has on business performance. Thus, we have seen the trends and mindsets shift towards more customer-centric operations – but what does that actually encompass?
A customer-centric or customer-first mindset stands for an approach that puts customers at the centre of every business decision. Brands adopt and develop this approach to meet customers’ needs and fulfil their expectations at every touchpoint over time. A customer-first mindset implies a shift from passive operations towards active listening and understanding for impeccable CX.
An active approach to CX is significant because it allows organisations to anticipate buyers’ needs and meet them in real life. Through constant delivery of expected experiences and promises, brands can further develop long-lasting relationships with customers. All of this has a direct impact on customer churn and profits.
Here’s what Paul Kavanagh, Managing Director at global Insight and CX agency, Beehive Research, says about it:
“Taking a proactive approach to customer-centricity not only helps to minimise mixed messages and inconsistent customer touchpoints. It also helps to drive customer retention and loyalty. At a time when competition and customer expectations are so high, the journey to customer-centricity should be top of every organisation’s agenda.”
The secret to implementing a customer-first mindset
As a magazine dedicated to sharing the theory and practice of CX, we can say there is still an enormous need for companies to advance their CX policies. To make sure you don’t skip essential steps in your strategic planning, we prepared an overview of the actions needed for implementing a customer-first approach:
Listen to your customers
The first and most important step toward a customer-centric approach is active listening. If you want to design experiences that matter to people, you need to understand the behaviours, attitudes, and motivations of your customer base. This isn’t as simple as sending out surveys and calling customers for feedback.
To truly understand your customers, you need to establish transparent and honest communication. Your customers should feel empowered to share their stories and hopes, and you should be able to recognize opportunities and turn them into actions.
In this instance, we recommend giving your customers a choice in the matter. Ask them how they prefer to communicate and provide a multi-channel experience to meet various needs over time. By giving your customers more options, you ensure comfort and a seamless experience in every given moment. Plus, according to the latest reports, omnichannel is the experience in demand you should be investing in.
Determine the customer persona
Now, it’s equally important to use the received feedback properly and inform future decisions. Information gathered from customers can help you pinpoint the areas in your products and services that need improvement. Furthermore, it can help you build empathy and understand your users beyond their purchasing journeys.
You can also use other data to form a better sense of your buyer persona:
- Purchase and customer service history
- Billing information
- Social media data
- Loyalty programmes
- Zero-party behavioural data
Also, you should share the gathered information across teams and departments for ultimate accuracy. Only this way, you’ll be able to collect and compare data, exchange opinions, and spark innovation within the company. Your entire organisation should be well aware of who are your customers and what are their journeys to provide exceptional experiences.
However, we have to highlight that user persona is much more than small fragments of data. You should observe it as a whole entity that encompasses every single action and detail along the journey. Read more on this topic here!
Deliver personalized experiences
Fostering personalization is another way of putting customers first, as it allows you to go one step further in supporting shoppers. Personalization goes beyond the optimization of the customer journey because it focuses on individual experiences.
Observed from the bottom line, this approach directly influences customer satisfaction, retention, and finally, profit. As 68% of consumers say specially tailored experiences are essential for their satisfaction, personalization is a factor no brand should take lightly.
Once again, we asked Paul Kavanagh for his opinion, and came out with the following quote:
“Meeting customer expectations is becoming increasingly complex, attracting new customers can be extremely costly and the battle to retain and reduce the risk of losing customers has never been so fierce. Organisations that do not provide a frictionless experience as customers navigate and switch between their preferred channels and interact with different departments – both online and in-person – limit their ability to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. They jeopardise potential and repeat sales and gamble with the impact of negative customer experience on both reputation and revenue. “
Make outstanding services a habit
Lastly, a customer-first mindset should not come to one-time practice. As we mentioned above, we should observe and implement it as a mind shift and long-term strategy. Only by constantly supporting customers and providing them with the best possible solutions brands can build relationships based on transparency and trust.
Therefore, all the results and initiatives that come out from the previous steps should be fostered over time. Being customer-centric is much more than part of one brand’s portfolio – it’s a practice that spreads across the entire organisation and makes its performance influential.
Final tips for developing a customer-first mindset
In this article, we barely scratched the surface of a broad topic that is customer-centricity. To better support you on your way to adopting a customer-first mindset, we also provide a few short tips on the matter:
- Establish and spread your mission and vision
We already talked about the importance of brand value and defining one organization’s mission and vision. However, we should highlight that these established goals need to be announced to the world. Your customers should know what you stand for and how you practice business, so shout it loud and clear. That way, you’ll make transparency, trust, and customer-centricity the centre of your every action, and your customers will appreciate it.
- Keep employees at the centre of every action
Customer-centricity is not all about customers. It is a mindset that also includes taking into account your employees’ well-being. Your employees are on the frontline, meeting customers and carrying out your initiatives. To do so, they should feel empowered every step of the way. Thus, don’t focus solely on your customers – always think about your employees and adopt a holistic CX mindset from the beginning.
Paul Kavanagh said: “A customer-centric organisation is one where everyone is driving towards the same shared goal: making the customer experience exemplary. With the customer at the heart of their company culture, these organisations do everything to simplify processes, empower employees, and deliver on their promises.”
- Use the right metrics and tools
Last but not least, make sure to use the right metrics when developing a customer-first mindset. Always keep in mind you should be focusing on customer metrics, not profits. Gather customer feedback, analyse it, and follow performance metrics. This approach will allow you to better understand your customers and provide the right solutions whenever necessary.