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How To Build A Customer-Centric Culture For Your Small Business

ByJared Atchison,
business.com writer
| Last Modified
Aug 15, 2019
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> Marketing
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Thanks to e-commerce, people now have the freedom to pick and choose where they shop and who they give their money to. Before, the options were limited; now, the marketplace is overflowing with new businesses ready to set up shop and make sales.

With so much fierce competition, how can you guarantee you'll attract people in your target market? What sets you apart from the rest when there are so many options out there? The answer is to become a customer-centric brand.

When your business is customer-centric, it means the customer is at the heart of your business model. Customers are the most crucial aspect of any business because, without them, companies don't stand a chance. You need customers to have a growing, thriving business, and being able to acquire and retain them so they're loyal to your brand is essential. 

For customer-focused businesses, every decision begins and ends with the customer and how you can add value to the buying process that's simple and easy to navigate. It isn't just about improving your customer service practices. There's less focus on numbers and more on customer needs and concerns to generate sales and reach goals. Your strategy steers away from outbound marketing and adopts inbound practices that bring people to you.

When you have a business culture that focuses on the customer, you're in tune with their needs, pain points, interests, and more. You're one step ahead and you know what they're looking for even before they do. You're focused on creating solutions to their problems rather than trying to sell them a product.

As a result, you build brand loyalty and a positive relationship with consumers. Putting their needs first and showing them they're your No. 1 priority establishes a connection built on trust. This helps your business increase sales and create a positive reputation for your business. When your current customers have a positive experience, they'll spread the word to their loved ones about it. 

Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other advertising. So, not only are you able to acquire new customers, but you also retain the ones you already have.

Having a customer-centric business also helps you improve your products and services because it’s easier to collect honest and constructive criticism. When your audience wants to see you thrive, they'll tell you what you need to do to grow and improve. This type of business model aims to address each customer's needs, which gives you more information about your target audience. As a result, you cater to them better and give them what they want.

There are a few ways you can work towards creating a strong customer-centric culture for your business, including:

  • Hiring for a customer-focused culture
  • Listening to customer feedback
  • Being easily accessible 

Here are more specifics on each.

Focus on your team

The culture you create for your business begins with your employees. Starting these practices as early as the interview process saves you time, money and resources you would otherwise have to splurge on later. By including your values in the onboarding process, you're ahead of the game in establishing the kind of culture you want to adopt and hiring the right employees.

Make it part of the hiring process to establish a customer-centric culture. Use interviews to ask questions regarding how potential candidates view this type of business model and if they have the qualities and attitude to help it grow. 

You could ask questions like:

  • How would former employees describe your work style?
  • What was the company culture like at your previous position? How did you feel about it?
  • If there's one thing you could do to improve that culture, what would you do?
  • Describe your ideal company culture. What does it look like?
  • Talk about a time you delighted a customer. How did you solve their problem?

You need to hire someone who’s good with people and understands why your business operates this way. If not, they won't be a good fit, and it's unlikely they'll add to the culture you're looking to sustain.

Gather customer feedback

Every business should collect customer feedback regardless, but this is especially true for those building a culture centered around its customers. Communicating with customers is key to building a customer-centric company that tends to their needs and relieves their pain points. It lets you assess how your brand is performing and where it needs improvement. It also helps your employees prolong and sustain this type of culture, because they're at the forefront listening to feedback and heightening their awareness.

Staying in contact with customers during all stages of the buying process is essential if you want to put them first. You have to engage with them about their purchases and their buying experience, among other things.

There are several ways to get in touch with your audience and collect feedback:

  • Email 
  • Social media
  • SMS text
  • Live chat and chatbots
  • Phone calls

People are usually willing to give honest feedback to brands, especially those they invest money in. In our technologically advanced world, it's easy to connect with customers and learn what they think.

If you want honest feedback, consider:

  • Sending customers an online survey or poll
  • Posting to social media
  • Searching branded hashtags and keywords on social media to see what people are saying about your brand and its products
  • Emailing customers encouraging them to share their opinions
  • Allowing customers to review and rate their experience directly on your website

Practice open accessibility

You can't just say that you're a customer-centric brand; you have to show it. How do you do that? By being easily accessible.

Brands that care the most about the experience they provide customers are easy to reach and get in touch with. According to Sprout Social, 64% of consumers want brands to engage with them, but for some reason, many don't. Have you ever tried to contact customer support only for them to leave you on hold for twenty minutes? You're not the only one. It creates a weak relationship between brand and customer and tells them that their issues and needs don't matter.

You can prevent creating a negative customer experience by being present and focusing on providing solutions. If it's difficult for people to contact your customer service department or get in touch with a representative, your brand lacks customer-centricity.

Make it easy for customers to reach you. Set up a separate contact page on your website where they can submit support tickets, inquiries and suggestions. Add a FAQ page to your website so those 53% who prefer to solve brand issues on their own have the opportunity to do so. Be active on social media where people regularly engage with brands and discuss their opinions on products and services. Respond to messages and emails promptly.

If you want to create a culture for your business that revolves around the customer, you're already on the way to success. With so many options for customers to choose from both online and in brick and mortar stores, it's essential to set yourself apart and stand out from the competition. When you focus on customer needs and how to make them happy, you'll create a customer base that's filled with loyal people.
 

Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison
See Jared Atchison's Profile
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.
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