Customer-centricity is the holy grail for marketers. Finally being able to truly understand who your customers (and potential customers) are, is harder than it seems in isolation.

Where businesses often make mistakes is stopping at relatively superficial statistics such as age, sex, gender, geography, socio-economic status, price point and even shopping or browsing behaviour. But is that really enough to know someone? 

Think about your friends, for example. In most circumstances, the majority of them are similar to you in terms of age, geography and socio-economic background - but does that make them the same as you? Would you speak to each of them in the same language at all times? And do they decorate their homes in the same way, or using the same companies and with the same motivations? My guess is probably not. 

So what do we mean by customer-centricity?

According to consulting group Gartner, customer centricity is “the ability of people in an organisation to understand customers' situations, perceptions, and expectations”. Note, importantly about their perceptions and expectations. True customer-centricity goes beyond just knowing what your customers look like in terms of demographics, and the kind of home improvement products or services they need. It’s about understanding why they want to make the changes to their home in the first place, and how they find inspiration as well. We talk a little more about personas and going beyond the basics in our blog, personas: why you should get personal with your digital strategy.

5 steps to customer centricity

As the marketing department, one of your most important roles is being the eyes and ears of the company when it comes to the customer. If you don’t know them, then no one in the company will do either. Here are some ways that you can get closer to your customers and find actionable insights to improve your bottom line.

#1 Establish regular feedback loops

A regular, ongoing feedback loop will help you to find issues in your messaging, product or marketing more generally. They can also help you to measure your own success over time: for example, have fewer users been asking about pricing since you made that website change?
Feedback loops can, and should, take form in many different ways, each of which has its own benefits:

  1. Website surveys - add surveys to your website to understand user problems.
  2. Click to chat questions and comments - if your customers are regularly asking the same questions, you know what you can improve.
  3. Internal feedback from customer-facing staff - meet your customer-facing staff (from branches through to call centre teams) each month; believe me, they know problems that your customers are facing that you’ve never heard about.

I personally once discovered that 18% of customers were calling a client’s call centre in order to understand what documents they needed to submit with their application. A review of the website showed us that the information was difficult to find and incomplete when users did find it. We created a “cheat sheet” with all the documents users would need in different scenarios and, after go-live, calls for this topic dropped to just 8% overnight. It was a small change, but it made a measurable impact on the user experience and helped to free up staff time.

#2 Interview customers and potential customers

In a world of big data, we can become too obsessed with quantitative data over qualitative. Although you want to ensure the changes you make are measurable, there is still a place for face-to-face conversations. There is only so much that you can learn from data; speaking to your customers will allow you to explore issues and opportunities in far greater depth. We regularly begin with this step and look to verify the insight with a larger pool via surveys. When it comes to understanding your user’s psychology, these conversations are incredibly valuable for digging deeper when an interviewee pauses or touches on a topic that could be of use.

Make sure you don’t bias your results by only speaking to existing customers. They’ve potentially interacted with your brand a dozen times, and visit your website or stores regularly. Interviewing a separate cohort of non-customers can help you to compare and contrast results to determine how best to outreach to new customers. What don’t they understand about your products and payment plans that customers do, for example?

#3 Back up your hypotheses

Once you’ve established hypotheses from your interviews, make sure that you’re not making major marketing decisions based on too small a pool. At Reflect Digital, we prefer to gather insight and hypotheses on our client’s customer’s psychological drivers, from the rational to contextual and emotional, from user interviews, and then put these to the test with a wider market survey. This means we can ensure that budgets are used most effectively, and we know precisely how to speak to your customers to drive them to convert.

#4 Stay on top of your competitors

Never lose sight of the fact that even your most loyal customers interact with your competitors from time to time. Make sure you’re aware of what they are doing, from new products, and offers to online messaging, so that you can respond in kind. 

New customers, in particular, will visit your website, your showrooms and stores as well as others to make an informed decision - particularly if you offer larger, more expensive products such as furniture. Google calls this the “messy middle”, and it’s important to understand where you stand in the market.

#5 Test, test, then test again

A simple way to get you closer to the customer is to have a comprehensive, strategic testing roadmap. In the digital world, you can test almost everything, from messaging to user experience (UX) and design. Make sure that you understand which changes to your website improve your eCommerce conversion rate, and what email CRM journey is providing you with the most value.

Simply put, testing allows you to very quickly see if your marketing decisions are helping your customers to convert, or not. And that means you can quickly put things right.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

There may seem like a lot of work to be done to achieve true customer-centricity. That’s because there is! But remember, not everything needs to be done at once. The realities of your day-to-day mean that undertaking a single big project may be difficult - but that doesn’t mean you can’t take it step by step.

Establishing feedback loops could be as easy as a single meeting everything month or so. Interviewing your customers may take time, but once that’s done the insight will take you a long way. But be sure to do something every month to get you a little closer to what your customers think and feel.

Alternatively, look to outsource. 

At Reflect Digital, we undertake projects like these regularly and see great results in not only helping our clients to get closer to customer-centricity but what actions they should take off the back of it; from messaging through to email and website journeys. If you want some advice, we’d love to hear from you! 

MEET THE AUTHOR.

meet-thom-min2

MEET THE AUTHOR.

THOM STANDEN

Thom leads Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and User Experience (UX) at Reflect Digital. In a nutshell, he improves customers' websites and conversion rates. Working closely with the client, Thom makes the companies we work with get the most out of their hard-earned traffic by reviewing the data and the site itself to identify opportunities to be exploited and issues to be fixed. He also spearheads website experimentation such as A/B testing to ensure data-driven decision making remains at the forefront of our actions.

More about Thom
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