A Customer-Centric Mindset: Necessary for Success in H2 21

By Cara Sloman, EVP, Nadel Phelan Inc. 

It’s a known law of business that it’s less expensive to keep the customers you have than to acquire new ones. However, since the pandemic and the resulting rise in digital adoption, the number of new organizations undergoing a technology adoption journey has increased. This makes customer satisfaction for both current and new customers more important than ever for businesses, calling for a greater emphasis on customer-centricity. 

But what does that mean? Customer-centricity is about truly putting the customer at the center of the business. Not an afterthought, not a commodity; the customer is the basis for all decisions. What will serve them best? What will delight them? What will keep them coming back? 

In a recent KPMG-commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, 72% of surveyed organizations say customer-centricity has become a higher priority since COVID-19. If you’re not prioritizing customers, you’re likely to lose market share to your competitors who are. But how do you implement a customer-centric mindset? Let’s take a closer look, including how PR can assist marketing and customer success efforts in doing so. 

 

Getting your head in the game 

It starts with leadership. Executives must not only commit to putting the customer front and center but demonstrate it in their decision-making and training others to see every decision through a customer-centric lens. For instance, adding AI to a solution may seem like the hip thing to do, but is it what customers want or need? 

Ultimately, the goal is to create symbiosis: each party – the company and the customer – benefit from the relationship. Perhaps that sounds obvious, but it’s hard to do in practice. But practice is the key to making progress in this crucial initiative. 

Customer data will be the touchstone of your customer-centricity. You’ll need to make this data accessible across departments so that everyone is on the same page. You’ll be better able to serve their needs – regardless of where they are in their customer journey – when you all have the same data to work from. 

One thing data shows us is how and to what extent the buying lifecycle has shifted. Forrester found that for B2B purchases, the average number of buying interactions has risen from 17 in 2019 to 27 in 2021. Currently, 60% of purchases involve four or more people, compared to 47% in 2017. 

This information necessitates a stronger integration of sales and marketing functions. Forrester found that companies that are successful at this saw 19% faster growth and 15% greater profitability.  

 

Calling for back-up 

To focus fully on customers, marketing and sales must communicate like never before. The sales team is on the front line, hearing directly from your customers about what they need, what they love about your product or service and what frustrates them. This sharing of intel can help you create innovations that differentiate your company with first-to-market ideas and increase profitability while giving customers what they’re asking for. 

Customer data and this customer-based anecdotal information create an accurate picture of your customers. Marketing and sales staff then share this information with your PR team, who can translate it into content and activities that support new offerings and the immediate content needs of customers.  

For example, let’s say you have many prospects entering your sales funnel with very basic questions about your product. But all your marketing materials are currently aimed at mid- and bottom-of-funnel prospects. How can you serve this segment? Your PR team can create an educational campaign that may include articles and podcast appearances by your subject matter experts, a tweet chat Q&A, infographics and more.  

As customers feel heard and get their questions and needs addressed by your company, their trust and loyalty will increase. These are the key ingredients for customer retention. 

 

In it to win…customer loyalty 

 As customer needs and technology trends constantly change, agility is the name of the game. Agility is enabled by a company-wide customer-centric mindset; the sharing of great customer data; ongoing communication with the sales, marketing and PR teams; and PR campaigns that give customers the tools they need to decide if your offering is right for them. You’ll never go wrong making your customers your priority, and you can do it well by using the best practices noted above. Although keeping customers at the forefront can be challenging, integrating PR and marketing into your strategy is a valuable tool for earning and retaining customer loyalty. Check out our blog on creating a customer retention strategy to learn more.