5 ways to spot a customer-centric business

By Swanie Tolentino

No industry is immune to the growing shift toward customer-centric business models. The internet has made it easy for customers to find the greatest products and services. With virtually limitless possibilities where customers can spend their money, brands that expect consistent business need to create and provide engaging customer experiences.

If you're curious as to what a customer-centric business looks like, here are five easy ways to identify one:

1. The company knows its customers

Every good business should have a solid understanding of its customers. Without this knowledge, it's impossible to account for the needs and wants of your audience — particularly as those desires change over time.

Companies' analytics and data are contextualized to reveal insight. Strong customer experiences, high levels of customer satisfaction and a demonstrated understanding of what its customers want are the signs of a brand that knows its consumer base.

2. The company focuses on its overall brand experience

Customers don't engage with brands on any sort of linear path. The paths to conversion are winding, but it all comes down to being at the right place at the right time. It was found that most Google searches are executed on mobile devices. In 10 countries worldwide — including the US and Japan — email marketing boasts an 18.8 percent open rate, while 76 percent of Facebook users rely on their news feed to discover exciting, new content.

Rather than making customers come to them, customer-obsessed businesses make sure they're alongside their customers and potential customers throughout the buying process, where ever that may be.

3. The company understands that product direction is tied to customer strategy

Product development and customer-focused strategies aren't separate business objectives. Products are part of the customer strategy as they're the endpoint of the customer journey. A successful company has a customer strategy that positions itself as the solution. When asked about the major challenges for CX implementation, 38 percent of business leaders listed conflicting priorities, while 28 percent blamed organizational silos. Three of the top four hurdles were related to organizational structures, rather than technology or finances. Breaking down communication silos and communicating CX strategy throughout the company can lead to improvements in customer satisfaction, new customer acquisition and sales revenue.

4. The company doesn't stop engaging once a sale is made

Making a sale is an achievement, especially when you're dealing with a new customer. However, customers want more from companies than a merely transactional customer experience. Continued engagement affords companies the opportunity to continuously interact with existing customers, deepening the relationships that can help drive repeat sales.

According to research from Gallup, B2B customers earning high customer engagement scores see 50 percent higher revenues and sales than other companies, as well as a 34 percent lift in profitability and a 55 percent higher share of wallet. Companies with a strong customer-centric focus have well-developed post-selling strategies that use digital and traditional correspondence, surveys about customer satisfaction and continued social engagement to maintain this relationship, solicit feedback and keep the brand top-of-mind. Meanwhile, consumers appreciate that brands don't forget about them as soon as they hand over their money.

5. The company plans for flexibility

Customer preferences change. It's not just about the products and solutions they seek: they also evolve their means of gathering information, conducting brand and product research, initiating sales, interacting with companies and embracing brand advocacy.

Social media is a good example of how these behaviors can shift. Ten years ago, Facebook was unquestionably the most important social network for building a brand presence. That remains mostly true today, but certain demographics can influence your strategy. Social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat tend to have a younger user base than Facebook and Twitter, for example, while research from Deloitte shows 56 percent of baby products consumers are influenced by social media — significantly more than automotive consumers, where only 32 percent are influenced by social content.