Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.” -Tony Hsieh

While winning customers over is essential for success for every business, keeping the customers happy is even more critical. No wonder, customer experience is a top priority for businesses, and companies can’t ignore it anymore. Today, customers don’t base their loyalty on the price or product. They value the overall experience throughout their journey. So, how important is customer experience?

Going by research by Temkin Group,  companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience.

Walker study states that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Delivering stellar customer experience can be achieved in multiple ways, including customer centricity and customer focus. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some specific differences.  Let’s take a look –

Customer Focus

Customer focus is the principle where businesses plan, operate, and even get measured in terms of the customer. This approach is used frequently in marketing, product development, as well as customer service. Here, organizations view their customers as individuals with different likes and dislikes.

When it comes to product design, customer-focused organizations configure their products according to the preferences and likes of their customers. This includes designing user interfaces and processes that keep customers’ preferences at the center. Most importantly, it is the customer focus that drives innovation in such firms.

Customer-focused marketing is about offering customers a consistently great and relevant experience across all touch points. It is about understanding customer needs, gathering their feedback continuously, and delivering stellar customer experience.

An example of customer-focused marketing is that of Axwell /\ Ingrosso, a Swedish DJ duo. They sell merchandise directly through their chatbot. This resulted in selling over £10,000 worth of merchandise via Facebook Messenger in just a couple of months and reduced their marketing spend by 80%. 56% of the customers surveyed by Nielson state that they would rather message a business than call customer service. This is why the strategy worked wonders for them as the users feel engaged with the timely responses and exclusive updates.

Customer Centricity

Customer centricity means keeping the customer at the center of your business. In customer-centric organizations, every employee is aligned with the company’s mission of listening to customers and building products that meet customer demands and needs.

Think of anticipating the customers’ future needs by analyzing their behavior patterns, understanding the market trends, and leveraging customer data to build better products and services. The experience provided is unique, memorable and seamless across various channels – right from the awareness stage and through the purchasing process. It also continues through the post-purchase process as well.

Research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to those that weren’t.

The Vodafone 2019 Global Trends Report, highlights customer centricity, ethics, and purpose as key business priorities for businesses for the next 12 months.

These stats don’t surprise me. Customer centricity allows companies a better understanding of their customer needs and challenges and offers expert insights so that they can embrace key trends to their advantage.

Customer-centric marketing looks at the customers’ lifetime value and focuses the marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment. It makes customers a part of the overall marketing efforts and makes them the catalysts of a more significant ROI.

In simple words, companies today need to take a people-centric approach and stay ahead of rapidly changing customer needs in a technology-driven market. And they need to do so at a breakneck speed. Companies who want to make a win need to treat their customers with respect, provide impeccable service, and build a long-term relationship with them.

A case in point is that of McDonald’s, who started listening to customer feedback and brought a change of serving chicken that wasn’t raised with antibiotics and offering milk from cows not treated with an artificial growth hormone. These are the moves that are driven by customer feedback and therefore, strikes a chord with them.

Strike a Balance Between Customer Focus and Customer Centricity

To sum up, there is no one answer as to whether you should be customer-focused or customer-centric. You need to be customer-oriented. Put the customers first, create a strategy, drive innovation based on their needs, build great relationships, and don’t lose track of the latest trends on the market to woo them. Make it a mission for your business, involve everyone in the company in this mission, build it as company culture, and you will emerge as a winner.

By implementing these, you can improve customer engagement, enhance their satisfaction levels, and reduce churns. Sure, it may take some time and tremendous efforts, but in the end, it will be worth it.