Customer Centricity: What Is It and Why It’s Critical to Your Business Success
At its core, customer centricity is about putting your customers at the center of everything you do. This means ensuring that every decision you make is based on a deep understanding of your customer’ needs and preferences, from product development to marketing to customer service.
Achieving true customer centricity is no easy feat, but it's well worth the effort. Your business will be more agile, innovative, and profitable when you get it right. Here are some tips to help you put your customers first in everything you do.
What is customer centricity, and why is it important for B2B businesses?
Customer centricity is a concept that’s integral to successful businesses of all kinds, but its importance in the B2B world is especially pronounced.
To run a customer-centric business, you should put customer needs and preferences first in every aspect of your company’s operations.
This ongoing effort results in loyal customers and higher customer lifetime values. Focusing on customer experience can give your business an edge over competitors who might be lagging behind in terms of customer perceptions and expectations.
And, given today's competitive environment, customer centricity should take center stage when designing any B2B business strategy.
A survey of 250 individuals at 180 B2B companies by California Management Review found that businesses reporting a “very mature” level of customer-centricity experienced 2.5x revenue growth compared with those reporting their company was “very immature.”
Thoughtful customer-centricity policies show that B2B companies recognize their customers, value their input and feedback, and strive to make them feel appreciated. This translates into more positive experiences and contributes to building long-term relationships.
“You are a customer-centric business if your actions come from customer feedback. If you build products or develop your website based on customer insights. If you provide support in a way that customers like it.”
George Gavrila, Marketing Director at Survicate
If you’re struggling to think of practical examples of a customer-centric mindset, recall the B2B companies you buy from regularly. Do you feel that you, as a customer, are put at the center and your needs are catered to? What makes you go back to them repeatedly, as opposed to taking your business elsewhere?
How can you create a customer-centric culture within your company?
Customer centricity is a strategy as much as a culture. There are practical steps you need to take to implement it, but it all comes down to a customer-centric mindset.
Of course, creating a business culture that prizes customer centricity does not happen overnight, especially if this was not well established before. You might even encounter resistance as you try to overcome outdated customer service practices in your organization.
Creating a customer-centric business culture requires a holistic approach. Every department needs to play a role, from marketing to sales, to make sure you provide a consistent experience at every touchpoint.
Creating a culture of customer centricity involves building and validating your working hypothesises with your users and also involving them in the ideation and design process. You should further celebrate the role customers have had in your success and acknowledge ideas and developments that have arisen as a result.
Rob O Beirne, VP of Sales at Survicate
The first step is to ensure customer satisfaction is at the forefront of your organization’s mission. This can be achieved by collecting customer feedback, analyzing it, and acting upon the results.
Here are some practical tips to start creating a customer-centric business culture.
Collect customer feedback
Your efforts to become more customer-centric should start with proactively collecting customer feedback to inform your future decisions, for example those related to new features or changes to the product roadmap.
The easiest and most efficient way to do this is by surveying your customers directly about various aspects and using different methods.
The specific method you choose will largely depend on the kind of product or service you offer, as well as your objectives, but make sure that you reach your customers where they are most engaged.
“I can't recommend Survicate enough as a marketer. The response rate increased 2x when we started embedding surveys into emails! We use surveys to see why users are not upgrading. Plus, the Slack integration helps us act on user feedback right away.”
Ola Korczyńska, Marketing Director at GetResponse
For instance, if your product is a mobile app, you can run an in-app survey. If you run an e-commerce business, you might want to collect website feedback.
If you have already run surveys, but your efforts don’t yield satisfactory results, worry not: there are proven ways to boost your survey response rate.
Democratize your research
Encourage everybody in the company, no matter the role, to collect and analyze user insights. If you limit research collection to those with professional experience and qualifications to conduct user research, you’re likely to miss out on a wealth of data.
Broden your reach with research democratization and get lots of benefits, including tons of data, better quality, and more granular user insights, as well as higher job satisfaction for your employees.
Implement a feedback loop
It’s not enough to just collect feedback. You need to acknowledge it and let your respondents know how you will act upon it. The process is called a feedback loop, and it consists of five stages:
- gathering information from our clients,
- learning and analyzing the data,
- acknowledging feedback,
- applying conclusions to the product,
- following up with respondents.
Closing the feedback loop means your respondents know you’ve taken their feedback on board and what will happen next.
A working feedback loop will make all the difference between customer churn and loyalty, and it’s a crucial element of a customer-centric culture.
What are the benefits of being a customer-centric company?
If your company is dedicated to putting its customers first, you'll be glad to know that it comes with a variety of perks. Being customer-centric means that you will increase trust and loyalty among customers while also improving the overall customer experience.
Customer centricity keeps companies in the same rhythm as their customers. Every action is built with customers in mind and ensures that the company and its users are always in sync.
Rob O Beirne, VP of Sales at Survicate
A customer-centric culture prioritizes the customer and maintains a persistent focus on their needs.
It might come as no surprise, then, that a study by Deloitte and Touche discovered that customer-centric businesses were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer.
As proof that customer centricity starts at the top, 64% of companies with a customer-focused CEO generated more profits than their competitors.
Better customer insights
Becoming a customer-centric company relies on collecting feedback on customer touchpoints before and after a sale, and there is no way around it. This means that you might have to start looking at aspects of your operations you did not pay much attention to before, or seeing them from a new perspective.
As a result, the volume and the quality of data available to you will increase, helping you make better-informed business decisions.
“Customer centricity is all about listening to customers carefully, and every B2B company should collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Bringing together direct feedback from Survicate surveys, while looking at what happened before a customer wrote it, gives you unique and detailed insights to prove a hypothesis from your business metrics from any BI tool.”
Lubos Bury, Product Manager at Smartlook
Brand loyalty doesn’t materialize out of a vacuum. It’s a result of consistently nurturing your customer base. A customer might buy from you once. They might even go back and place another order. But only if you put their needs and preferences at the forefront, you’ll be able to keep them shopping for longer.
It’s five to 25 times more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain the existing ones, so keeping brand loyalty at the top of your agenda will pay off in the long run.
Improved product or service quality
Proactively asking your customers for feedback, which lies at the heart of a customer-centric culture, will provide you with a wealth of data you can use to improve your product or service so that it can serve your target audience even better.
In-product surveys are a great way to ask your users for their feedback while they’re most engaged, which results in good-quality data. They will help you create better product roadmaps, identify areas for improvement, locate any potential problems before they impact your bottom line, and ensure higher customer satisfaction.
How do you measure the success of your customer-centricity initiatives?
Measuring the success of customer-centricity initiatives is critical if you want an accurate picture of how your users respond to your practices. Although there are many factors you can consider depending on your business goals and the industry you operate in, there are some general measures that can help any business.
In the world of digital products, customer satisfaction is the ultimate north star. However, measuring its business impact in real time for the product team to make informed decisions is almost impossible. Metrics such as customer lifetime value or net revenue retention are lagging indicators, and their impact on the product team’s work takes effect only after a long time. Therefore, our product teams rely on quantifying the success through proxies like customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), or net promoter score (NPS).
Martin Matus, Group Product Manager at Productboard
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
One of the most popular customer satisfaction surveys out there, this handy poll will help you gather information about your customers’ needs so you can provide a better product or service.
The customer satisfaction metric provided by the survey is a reliable predictor of your growth and churn rate.
In a typical CSAT survey, respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with a company or a specific product/service on a 1-5 scale.
The first question is often followed by one or more open-ended questions that ask the respondents to elaborate on their choice and explain the score.
To get your Customer Satisfaction score, divide the number of happy respondents (those who chose 4 or 5 on the scale) by the total number of respondents.
If you run the survey regularly, you’ll be able to track your score and see how your customer satisfaction level has changed over time.
You can measure customer centricity initiatives through the departmental lens of the initiative. For example, if a product team used many user interviews in designing a new feature you could benchmark its adoption vs. features built without such feedback.
Rob O Beirne, VP of Sales at Survicate
This short yet highly effective survey gathers qualitative feedback to gauge customer loyalty. It consists of a rating scale and an open-ended follow-up question.
The secret behind its effectiveness is its simplicity and its customer-centric approach.
Even though the first question is fixed, you can get creative with the second one. Ask one of the following questions to get the respondent to elaborate on their score:
- What is the reason for your score?
- What can we do to improve your Net Promoter Score?
- What’s the one thing you would change about our product/service?
- What would convince you to use our product/service more often?
- How would you feel if you could no longer use our product/service?
- How does our product/service meet your needs?
- Why did you choose our company over the competition?
Best of all, with Survicate you’ll be able to distribute your NPS survey via email, website, web app, or mobile app—no coding required.
“Survicate has all we need to do NPS. We can measure NPS via any channel, calculate the scores, analyze results, and automate following up with detractors, passives, and promoters!”
Michał Skurowski, CEO at Livespace
Customer Effort Score
Measuring how well your customer-centric initiatives are faring is easy with a powerful metric such as the Customer Effort Score.
As the name suggests, the survey helps you discover how much effort your customers need to put into using your product or service. A high CES score reflects smooth user experience that translates into better user activation and customer lifetime value.
Using the CES survey regularly will help you predict customer churn, retention rate, and future growth.
Discover churn reasons
The Lost Customer survey will help you get to the bottom of churn by discovering why a customer has decided to leave.
When a respondent selects an answer, they will be asked to provide additional information. For instance, if they churned because the price of your product or service is too high, the survey will ask them what price they’d find acceptable.
It can be sent via email, triggered on a website, or used on your preferred communication channel right after cancellation.
Case study: How Swedish fintech Intergiro became more customer centric with surveys
Intergiro is a Swedish fintech that provides business banking services across Europe.
The company was looking for a way to understand the “why” behind the quantitative data it was collecting so that it could take a more customer-centric approach to its operations.
Thanks to Survicate, Intergiro collected more feedback than ever, which helped the company deliver new features 50% faster and acquire over 2000 new customers.
Survicate’s variety of survey distribution channels helped Integiro gather customer insights across different touchpoints and become a more customer-centric business.
“Before we were using Typeform, which was quite limited, because we could share only the survey as an external link, and then people didn't complete it. It wasn't so effective.”
Celina Cabral, Product Lead at Intergiro
You can read more about how the fintech used surveys to grow its business in our case study.
Become a customer-centric company with Survicate
Becoming a customer-centric business is a must if you want to differentiate yourself from your competition. Even though it will not happen overnight, there are some steps you can take today to get on track.
“The targeting aspect of product surveys, the number of question types to choose and customizable attributes make Survicate the best survey tool I've ever used.”
Adam Coombs, Senior Manager of Digital Sales at Adidas
To start implementing customer-centric initiatives, you need to know what your customers think and want. And the easiest way to do that is by proactively asking them for feedback at different touchpoints so you can have a full picture of their experience.
With Survicate, you can gather customer insights at any point of their journey. Our tool allows you to create email, website, mobile app, and in-product surveys, so you never miss a chance to learn about your customers.
The freemium plan now comes with unlimited survey responses, access to a wide range of native integrations (including the most popular tools such as HubSpot, Intercom, and Slack), and over 125 ready-to-use templates that can be fully customized. You can sign up for free and start transforming your company into a truly customer-centric business today.