by Aminat Abubakar
Macdonald (2018) defines customer-centric as “a way of doing business with your customer in a way that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, customer loyalty, and profits.” A customer-centric business is more than customer feedback, customer satisfaction, or good service. “Customer centricity is sometimes used as a catchall term for talking about customer feedback or customer satisfaction results, but making people happy is only one part of the equation,” explained Kroner (2017). In order to remain relevant and successful, Kroner (2017) noted, “Companies must understand current customer needs and wants, and ensure that there are the right internal and customer-facing strategies, processes and marketing initiatives to satisfy them.”
According to Thompson (2016), successful leaders establish the following five habits within their organizations:
- Listen to what customers’ value and seek their feedback on their experiences.
- Think objectively to make a sound, fact-based decisions.
- Empower employees with the resources they need to please customers.
- Create new value for customers, without being asked.
- Delight customers by exceeding beyond their expectations.
The business environment consists of various types of products and services that offer solutions to problems or offer better alternatives that are valuable. However, the real difficulty is getting customers. Most businesses fail because they find it difficult to get customers due to their inability to profitably attract and retain customers. Agrawal (2017) provided ten common mistakes made by the leadership include (1) missing product-market fit, (2) misaligned product-channel fit, (3) poorly trained salespeople, (4) confusion about the ideal customer profile, (5) Impractical pricing strategy, (6) lack of market education, (7) inaccurate lead-scoring, (8) dysfunctional lead nurturing, (9) dissatisfying customer service, and (10) disruptive competitor.
According to Razeghi, (2015), “Aggregating customers is where a lot of entrepreneurs find themselves stuck. They do all of this work to come up with an idea, but they do not know what that next step is.” They fail to take into account and identify the conflict that exists between what a customer really needs. It is very important to conduct a market research conduct interview, pitch your ideas to potential customers to gauge, and stimulate their interest in order to get feedback on your proposed service offering. “Think of it as a business before you launch your business,” says Razeghi. Doing so will eliminate the difficulty in getting customers to patronize your business. For example, Uber was able to succeed in launching its business as a result of identifying issues that taxi customers had such as long waiting times, unpredictability, and very expensive. Uber offered solutions which are convenient, inexpensive, and safe taxi service.
The most important aspect of gaining customers is to address as much of their pain points in your product or services offering, thereby “if you are producing results, your clients will recommend you to other clients—your clients will invite you back for additional projects” (Biech, 2007, p. 113).
When a business is successful in attracting customers it becomes easier to generate fund from them to support the business. For example, Aaron Hirschhorn and wife Karine started their business DogVacay when they realized the pain of dog owners when they are about to go on vacation just like with their dog Rambo and Rocky’s. They got inspired to set up a business of dog care based on the experience they had in letting their dogs stay with a dog trainer – the dogs benefited from socialization and being in a social environment.
He was able to conduct a detailed research to find out the number of dogs in the United States, the overall amount spent on dog sitting, and the total sum spent on pet-related trade. He was able to connect well with the customers, which lead them to fund his initial business startup. He did not use any of his money in the business or on marketing rather he places the publicity in Yelp listing. According to Aaron, “We started unraveling our jobs, building a prototype product, making a little video and getting the word out there. Once you do that and people start to see that you have left an opportunity because it is your passion to build this business then you start to get a bit of reception” (Mullins, 2014, p.79). It is easy to have a missed opportunity when we do not pay attention to our environment for opportunities that would create value in order to get customers. DogVacay solved real problems that were real for the dog owners.
I am yet to acquire a client in my consulting practice. I am in the discovery and design stage of interviewing customers, understanding the market, designing company structure, business model, how to source for fund, as well as charting the competitive position which is taking the business “core and translate it into something that would produce value for the customer, something they would care deeply” wrote Bill Aulet (2013,p.132). In order to understand the customers’ needs, we apply IDEO’s human-centered design model in working alongside our clients to gain insight into their problems to enable us to offer customized solutions that would address their pain.
At the same time, I am very conscious of the competition from other large consulting firms, as such, we must provide an alternative that would match or exceed what is currently in the market.
Agrawal, A. (2017, November 2). 10 Reasons Why Your Startup Isn’t Getting Customers. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/303981
Aulet, B. (2013). Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
Biech, E. (2007). The Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
Kroner, E. (2017). The 7 Pillars of Customer Centricity. Retrieved from https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/MarketingInsightsNewsletter/Pages/7-pillars-of-customer-centricity.aspx
MacDonald, S. (2018, June 6). How to Create a Customer-Centric Strategy For Your Business. Retrieved from https://www.superoffice.com/blog/how-to-create-a-customer-centric-strategy/
Mullins, J. (2014). The Customer-Funded Business: Start, Finance, or Grow Your Company with Your Customers’ Cash. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Razeghi, A. J. (2015, May 1). The Business Before Your Business. Retrieved from https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/the-business-before-your-business
Thompson, B. (2016, May 28). Take a Tip from Bezos: Customers Always Need a Seat at the Table. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234254