Why customer-centric brands are also fast researchers
The connected world we live in has opened up opportunities for companies to interact with their customers more often and across more channels than ever before. With so many opportunities to delight (or even disappoint) your customers, embedding customer-centricity throughout the organization, from the front lines to the back office has never been so important.
In a MarketingWeek study of 10,000 companies in 60 countries, at over-performing companies, 79% of employees say customer-centricity is fully embraced by all business functions, compared to just only 13% at underperforming companies.
The key to doing this is to move ownership of insight resources out of marketing and into the entire organization. The customer isn’t marketing’s job anymore, it’s everyone’s job.
Insights at the heart of customer-centricity
Customer-centricity is simply looking at your products and services from the customer’s point of view. Companies that are truly customer-centric have a comprehensive toolset designed to manage and drive customer insight at every level of the organization.
Take the messaging app Slack for example. The world didn’t need another messaging app, but in five years, the company has grown to be valued at $7.1 billion. Slack has been listening to customer feedback since its inception and was founded because of customer complaints with email. The company focuses on customer-facing metrics like NPS, instead of its bottom-line, and it integrates them throughout the business, helping to inform their most critical decisions.
Business can no longer afford to just have ad-hoc insight generation. According to a report by the consulting firm Walker, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Companies must be customer-centric and provide an excellent customer experience or they’ll risk high customer churn. With rising customer expectations, companies have an opportunity to join and advocate for this new level of customer connectedness and reap the benefits of increased business performance.
Are your insights fast enough?
Customer-centricity demands speed. For many products, the expected time to market is faster than ever before. In fact, according to a recent study, 56% of consumers and 66% of business buyers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies. We all know the story of how Blockbuster couldn’t innovate fast enough and lost out to the digitally-enabled Netflix. Borders was late to the dot-com boom and didn’t embrace e-books when Barnes and Noble and Amazon developed the Nook and Kindle. And why do you think people camp out for days to get the latest Apple products? It’s about well-timed innovation.
Insight generation is the key to faster innovation, and it starts with research tools in the hands of every department at your company. You must have the ability to quickly prioritize features that matter the most to the customer or get customer responses to an idea within hours or days instead of months. Case in point: 59% of customers say companies need cutting-edge digital experiences to keep their business. If you don’t innovate fast enough, consumers will take their business elsewhere.
The rise of the customer-centric organization
The Salesforce study found that 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services, and 67% of customers say that their standard for good experiences is higher than ever. If your focus is only on your products, and you lack true connection to your customer base across all functions, you’ll miss out on a huge opportunity.
Thanks to digital, interactions between customers and brands are becoming more frequent than ever. Big data, machine learning, and AI are all driving a rising tide of insight generation. Customers want to have more personalized experiences, more data-driven and “Amazon-like” buying experiences: 70% of customers said connected processes are very important when working with a company. Customers expect that every touchpoint will be consistent and enabled with data about them, their company, and their needs.
A majority of customers say that new technologies have transformed their expectations of the businesses that they buy from, and customers are beginning to enjoy being connected to companies who focus on building real relationships with them. And these customers are spending their money on brands they feel the most connected with. In fact, research by HBR found that emotionally-connected customers are twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers on a lifetime value basis. These customers buy more, exhibit less price sensitivity, and recommend your company more.
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