What does it mean to be customer-centric?
Customer-centric is a term used to describe a business or organization that puts the needs and desires of its customers first. It is based on the idea of “customer first” and is often used as a way to differentiate one company from another. Customer-centric organizations strive to create an environment where customers feel heard, valued, and able to have an impact on the products and services they use.
There are two common misconceptions about customer-centricity. One being that people tend to think of customer-centricity as only being applicable once a customer signs a contract. Customer-centricity puts the customer at the forefront of all decisions – starting from the first time a customer encounters your business, all the way through renewal. Therefore, every department needs to care about and align to customer-centric practices. This doesn’t mean every team needs to share the exact same metric to measure their impact on the customer experience, but there should be a common thread that ties them all together.
How do you create a customer-centric organization?
The most effective way to create a customer-centric organization is to align teams and leaders is through shared metrics. Quantified accountability builds a strong foundation and motivation for collaboration. Ideally, these metrics are core business metrics that all employees feel responsible for, even if they’re not part of the team that directly owns them. By establishing a personal or team connection to a metric, you can start to influence behavior. The exact metrics you use will depend on context of your collaboration – what’s the goal, who’s involved, and so on.
But simply defining your metrics isn’t enough. You must promote your shared metrics across the company. Team members should know what the metrics are, why the metrics matter, how the metrics directly affect the business, and how each member influences the metrics. Your team should align around the metrics, and your metrics should align around the customer. Which brings us to the core of our organizational alignment: customer-centricity.
All departments need to feel responsible for the customer and respect the customer’s challenges, even (and especially) if they don’t regularly interface with the customer. Your customer should be an omnipresent force in your internal strategies, decisions, and processes. Teams become vested in the customer experience when you make it real for them. You can accomplish this by:
- Democratizing customer data at every level within the organization
- Internally sharing Customer Success reports and dashboards, as well as customer stories far and wide
- Encouraging cross-functional collaboration across your customer journey
When your entire organization stands behind your customer, the customer feels it and you build a competitive differentiator that’s hard to match.
Why is creating a customer-centric model important to SaaS companies?
While one department may own the core responsibilities of Customer Success, a customer’s decision to renew (or not to renew) is based on their collective experience with your company.
- It’s based on the marketing that identifies their pain points.
- It’s based on the sales pitch that sells a use case.
- It’s based on the implementation, training, and onboarding that launches them.
- It’s based on the product that meets their needs.
- It’s based on the support they receive when they encounter an issue.
- It’s based on the seamless subscription process that keeps them renewed.
- It’s based on every single touchpoint a customer has with an organization, and their expectations for that experience.
That’s why it’s in your company’s own best interest to make a customer-first, customer- centric, customer-obsessed – whatever you want to call it – mentality the common denominator in everything you do. If you approach this customer mentality by only relying on Customer Success to prevent churn and improve the customer experience, you will be disappointed by the results. Customer Success cannot be done in isolation.