Consumers become more selective about where and how they spend their money during difficult economic times, which presents a unique set of obstacles for businesses.
Customer-centricity is a word that dates all the way back to the 1960s, but it has never been more pertinent than it is now in the business landscape. Customers seeking to conduct business in such hostile settings require more than the best offering or the lowest price; they seek dependability, confidence, and trust in the companies with whom they do business.
Customer loyalty is the ultimate goal of a customer-centric firm. A loyal customer base is critical for surviving disruption, since they will continue to rely on your services even in difficult economic conditions. However, true customer-centricity is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Therefore, how are firms expected to anticipate and respond to changing client expectations? It begins with an awareness of how your business runs and what has to be changed to maintain a loyal consumer base.
In light of COVID-19, here are three ways firms might adapt to shifting consumer interactions.
1. Put growth objectives on the backburner
If expanding your customer base is a current priority for your firm, take a time to consider the long-term cost of that expansion, both reputationally and financially, to assess whether it is a sustainable path.
Few firms have escaped COVID-19 unharmed, if not completely. As a result, many businesses have been compelled to realign their priorities, resources, and objectives in order to survive the crisis. If your firm has not addressed the immediate or future economic implications of the pandemic and its potential influence on your organisation, you should begin immediately.
A component of assessing this impact is identifying factors that you can manage, or at the absolute least preserve, in order to maintain as much ‘business as usual’ as possible. Maintaining your existing customer base is critical to your survival strategy.
Concentrating only on client acquisition at the expense of existing customers might result in a funnel effect, in which a steady stream of new business comes in while an equal number of existing customers leaves. This can lead businesses into a spiral of ever-increasing discounts in order to attract new consumers, which finally runs dry along with their revenue streams.
2. Strive for operational excellence while remaining customer-centric
Historically, a continuous improvement attitude was focused on standardised costs, steady operations, and compliance with regulatory requirements. While all of these are vital components of running a business, these organisations lost sight of the larger picture and realised their product was no longer relevant to their customers.
While operational excellence is critical, it does not matter whether you do a procedure 10% better than the previous year if you miss the mark with your client base.
Recently, organisations have begun to embrace a new philosophy that views the customer experience as a continuous process. For really customer-centric firms, every choice and objective is made with the end goal of improving the customer experience or creating enduring sentiment.
Continuous improvement is no longer an echo chamber; the convergence of process excellence and customer experience is the new north star, and this philosophy pervades a business’s and team’s very structure.
3. Precision-driven by data
Digital marketing and social communication channels are the order of the day in a post-pandemic period, and when used properly, can provide more particular insights into your clients’ behaviour.
Utilizing customer data can be as straightforward as conducting a poll of your current customer base to elicit meaningful insights. The more data you collect, the more precise these insights will become.
Consider each digital touchpoint of your customers’ experiences as a fingerprint, containing a wealth of DNA or data that enables you to gain a greater understanding of their requirements, expectations, and worries.
To create a holistic vision of customer excellence, it helps to group together each touchpoint into what are known as journey maps; a high-level, intuitively legible graphic that enables you to examine the user experience from the outside-in — across all your personas.
The journey visualisation will progressively uncover areas for process improvement from a persona-centric perspective, while also enabling business mapping, change management, and operational transformation.