Guess what top companies worldwide all have in common?
Whether they’re service, manufacturing, or merchandising businesses, the most important shared element between them – a customer-centric model.
As companies transition from product-oriented to customer oriented, this process entails complete organizational planning and a long-term commitment to consistency. The payoffs, which equal profits, often include one or all of the following: an improvement of operations, expanding of the customer base, and a securing and increasing of the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
By developing and executing a complete and effective customer-centric model, businesses are put in a greater position to align all strategic and operational priorities as well as enabling lasting and continuous structural growth.
Successful Companies that Live By a Customer-Centric Model
Many established organizations have come to realize that in order to maximize the customer life-span and CLV, it is not suffice to simply place customers at the top of the priority list. The priority list itself has to revolve around meeting the needs of their customers.
There are a variety of innovate approaches, methods, and software platforms used for development and execution of customer-centric models across various industries. The following are four examples of organizations that exemplify this customer-first approach and prove the effectiveness of delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Intuit drives customer delight with core principles
Intuit has long maintained their reputation as a company focused on customer needs. From its earliest days, employees were encouraged to observe customers and look for ways to solve real-life problems for them. Testing and observation would be done to see how customers reacted to products and what problems they ran into. They would even do these product tests beyond the work environment and see how well the product functioned in the home. The company also instituted annual surveys to gather customer insights on an organization-wide level.
At one point, Intuit launched “Design for Delight,” a major initiative meant to instill a culture of customer centricity using core principles as its basis. As outlined in Harvard Business Review, these principles were as follows:
“Deep Customer Empathy – Immerse yourself with customers to know them better than they know themselves. To understand what really matters to customers, you should watch them, talk with them, and put yourself in their shoes.
Go Broad to Go Narrow – Create options before making choices. There are lots of possible answers, so to get one great idea, you need to create lots. The first idea is rarely the best.
Rapid Experiments with Customers – Get customer feedback early and often to understand the pros and cons of options. Watching customers react to prototypes through trial and error is better than relying on our own opinions.”
With these principles in place, Intuit has become a leader in customer experience and innovation. These core principles have defined a culture that is constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience, taking on initiatives, and consistently putting the customer first in every regard.
Amazon defines the customer-centric model
The fact that Amazon is mentioned here shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. They are a model of customer-centricity and maintain practices that keep them leaders in this arena:
- Did you know that the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, will often leave a seat open at his conference tables to remind all those present that the most important person in the conversation is “the Customer.”
- Amazon installs practices to maintain excellence in customer experience by rewarding those who “raise the bar” for the organization.
- From Kindle to FireTV to Echo, Amazon develops products that are meant to address consumer wants and needs. Their rather than their development team’s opinion.
- They cultivate a “culture of metrics” where they routinely engage in head-to-head tests of customers’ reactions to different features or site designs.
Amazon is consistently mentioned in conversations surrounding the most customer-centric companies in the world. This approach has moved beyond just a philosophy, it has become their culture and it is working tremendously well for them.
REI takes a stand and gains a following
REI has become synonymous with outdoor recreation gear and services. The company is built on a consumers’ cooperative model where the majority of customers have membership that provides discounts and other benefits. The company fell into the annals of customer centricity when they began their #OptOutside campaign in 2015 by announcing that they would be closed for Black Friday. Instead, they erected a mini-site dedicated to providing information on hiking trails that would encourage families to go outside and enjoy the holiday weekend together. While most members of the Seattle based retail chain have been strong advocates of the brand, this move specifically (publicity campaign or not) resonated greatly with customers around the country.
Hilton uses innovation to maintain customer satisfaction
For almost a century, Hilton Hotels Worldwide have defined the hospitality industry, excelling at maintaining one of the most recognized hotel brands in the world. Hilton Worldwide employs a wide range of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to gather and evaluate customer data from all sources, including: guest feedback, social media, and online review sites. These methods provide insights for achieving their target of continuously catering to the customer, which increases long-term customer loyalty.
Making a Customer Centric Model of Your Own
Sounds like an over-whelming task – revamping customer relations every step of the journey. Let there be no mistake, the challenges can be great, but the goal is attainable. Most of the challenges include investing time, money, resources, and manpower. Implementing a customer-centric model requires fundamental changes to every angle and aspect of the business, not just the way it interacts with customers. Nor is it a one-time project; it involves building trust, relationships, and dedication to customers and services and for the long-term.