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Customer centricity: what it means for your business and your customers

by Iain Stanfield , 09.03.2015

There has been a seismic shift in the way some brands operate in recent years. The traditional “push” approach is being replaced by a more customer-centric model that uses the full range of customer / brand experiences to strengthen relationships. Born from the desire to put customers at the heart of an organization, what does customer centricity actually mean for your business and, more importantly, for your customers?

 

Keeping the customer satisfied is a hygiene factor not a differentiator

Our work with leading brands has shown us that good products and efficient service are no longer enough to keep customers loyal. This is especially true as many sectors become increasingly competitive and commoditized. Customer satisfaction, once the only customer metric , is now not even half the story. Today’s sophisticated consumer demands brand experiences and authenticity. Brands that are able to become truly customer centric and deliver consistently positive customer experiences are able to stand out from the crowd.

As we move from an era of austerity to a more positive future, consumers are ready to go back to trusted brands to meet their needs – an opportunity that brands cannot afford to miss. Customer centricity matters because it is key to competitive advantage.

The path to customer centricity

What does a customer-centric organization look like? And how do you know that you are getting it right? We have developed a model that cuts across the traditional silos of brand tracking and customer satisfaction surveys to provide a truly people-centric approach. Within the model we have a new way to understand how experiences resonate with people and the emotional imprint that they make. It is the emotional imprint of experiences that then shapes the type of relationship that people have with brands. It is the combination of great experiences and strong relationships that is the key to competitive advantage.

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Create an experience at every touchpoint – and make it memorable

There is growing evidence that experiences are what people truly value. 73% of UK consumers consider experiences to be more important than possessions and 60% say that their experience of a brand is the biggest single factor in deciding whether to buy a product or service. Executed correctly, every single interaction with a brand can become a positive experience that can impact on the impression and emotional attachment to the brand.

In this context, brands need to go beyond the traditional “touchpoints” to ensure that at every opportunity they are creating an experience for customers – one that they will remember for the right reasons. It’s no longer enough just to interact with customers. You need them to experience your brand and to deepen their relationship with it by doing so.

As we reframe how brands should interact with customers, there is an acute need to measure these experiences and understand the emotional impact they are having on your consumers. This involves capturing traditional areas of marketing communications and customer service “moments of truth”, along with others over which you may have little or no control – so called “earned media”.

 

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A more holistic measure of the customer experience is vital at this point. We help brands to understand not only the number of interactions customers have with them, but, most importantly, how the experience made them feel. This enables us to provide new insights into the quality and memorability of each touchpoint in the customer journey that makes up their experience of your brand.

We know from our work with leading brands around the world that it is the emotional imprint of the experience that is a much better predictor of customer loyalty, as measured by the Net Promotor Score. Brands who succeed in creating consistently positive and memorable experiences, and connect with their customers emotionally will be the ones who triumph in the future.

To find out more about managing the customer experience, join our webinar, entitled “Forging Strong Relations” on 25th March 2015. Drawing on GfK’s latest research, the webinar will examine those all-important strong brand and customer relationships, and identify the elements that make them strong.

Register Here: http://bit.ly/1ETZR4a

For more information, please contact Iain Stanfield at iain.stanfield@gfk.com or John Banerji at john.banerji@gfk.com.

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