Forrester Research refers to the current moment as “The Age of the Customer”. As such, customer orientation is critical to a successful business model.
Today, it is consumers, not companies that drive business decisions. Customer orientation, or customer-centricity, is a business model that privileges customer service over all other deliverables. This approach seeks to encourage return custom, thus increasing customer lifetime value. The value of this strategy is proven by research; recently, Econsultancy asked what the most important brand characteristic was for digital native consumers. The overwhelming response was that companies should be customer-centric, with 58% of respondents stating that this was their priority.
It seems like common sense, but many brands fail to implement strategies that place the customer at the forefront of their operation. Often, companies will concentrate their energy on a product over consumers. However, as technology facilitates greater personalization, customer expectations increase exponentially. Now, the consumer expects to be a brand’s priority. Therefore, to remain relevant, it is essential that companies shift their focus to the customer. With the customer at the forefront of business strategy, businesses can develop a clear purpose that centers on customer preferences.
The foundations of a customer orientation strategy
If a brand wants to place customer orientation at the forefront of their corporate strategy, they need to ask themselves a series of questions. The first is a broad, existential inquiry; why does the company exist? What is its purpose? However, instead of answering “to make this product”, consider what the product delivers to the consumer. After this, consider why consumers buy this product? Invariably, this will be to help customers do or feel something.
By answering these fundamental questions, a brand can build a broader picture of its purpose. Subsequently, companies can adjust their marketing message to meet customer desires and needs. After all, if a company places the customer at the center of their operation, they are more likely to remain loyal to a brand. It demonstrates that the company cares about their needs and concerns, driving consumer confidence and brand affinity.
Why data is essential to customer-centricity
However, aligning services, products, and marketing materials is a complex task. As a result, data is critical to achieving a customer-centric strategy. This is particularly the case as digital channels become more important to success than ever. Furthermore, these channels are essential to capturing and analyzing a clear picture of customer experience, preferences, and behavior. Therefore, it is imperative that brands tap into big data to gain crucial customer insights.
Combined with Customer Relationship Management (CRM), businesses can develop detailed customer profiles through data. This intelligence is essential to improving customer experience, as it gives evidence-based insights into buying behavior, interests, and engagement. With this information, marketers and salespeople can personalize services, communications, and products through more granular segmentation. Moreover, research has proven the value of this strategy; according to Deloitte, customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable.
How to overcome big data challenges
However, many brands encounter obstacles when developing a customer orientation strategy informed by data. Often, they struggle to manage data quality; as a result, analytics can be incomplete, inaccessible, or misleading. Therefore, it is vital that companies implement a comprehensive data governance strategy. With quality data, companies can ensure they are getting an accurate insight into customer preferences. Below are some tips to enhance data quality, diversity, and how to develop a more nuanced customer orientation strategy.
10 tips for developing a data-driven customer orientation strategy
- Leverage network traffic. Company networks contain a wealth of valuable information that many organizations do not take advantage of. Capturing this intelligence is the first step to generating actionable insights.
- Do not make assumptions. Embrace what the data says, not what you think it says. Remain objective and the data will reveal unexpected things.
- Eliminate blind spots. Data blind spots can lead to the loss of valuable information. Companies need to ensure they have a 360-degree view of customer behavior through every channel.
- Leave no stone unturned. Aggregated data can contain critical insights. It is this granular information that will reveal the most valuable insights required to continuously improve customer experience.
- See the big picture. Capture data across platforms and enrich that data by correlating it with information from internal sources. Companies should connect the dots as early as possible in the processing to gain complete, accurate and timely insights.
- Focus on quality over quantity. Data quality is critical to accurate insights. Although data diversity is important, avoid getting lost in data.
- Prioritize agility. Customer expectations are always changing – so businesses need to be able to adjust. To ensure analytic capabilities are up-to-date, companies need to be able to calibrate their data capture and processing tools on the fly.
- Operate in real time. Your business runs in real time and so should your analytics. It is essential to gain real-time insight into customer behavior to understand what is happening when it is happening. From here, businesses can take timely, appropriate action.
- Never compromise on experience. Analytics systems should never compromise customer experience. Therefore, data capture tools should not interfere with website speed or performance.
- Be platform neutral. Businesses need to make sure they can leverage insights across every channel, whether the customer is using a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
High-quality data: The key to better customer experience
In summary, if companies ensure that high-quality, diverse data sources are available for analysis, they can enhance the customer experience. This approach is critical in “The Age of the Consumer”, where customer expectations are constantly evolving. Supported by the proper technology, companies can capture valuable data without impacting website performance and customer experience.
With this accurate, data-driven intelligence, businesses can better understand their end users’ experience and optimize the sales funnel. From here, organizations can build on this information and analyze what affects churn and customer lifetime value. Therefore, with robust, evidence-based insights, a business can develop a customer orientation strategy that nurtures loyalty, and ultimately, long-term profit.