How to Create a Customer Centric Business Strategy

Mailchimp's advice for building customer relationships.

On its face, “customer centric” may seem like a pretty obvious business strategy. Of course you want your customers to have a positive experience. Of course you care about their needs and want to make and sell things that make them happy, which of course leads to more business, more loyalty, more customers, and of course more profit.

But like any good marketing tenet, there are layers to it and plenty of ways to achieve it. And you should want to achieve it, too. According to Econsultancy, one of “the most critical qualities of effective digital leaders is being ruthlessly customer-centric.”

Easy, right? But there’s more to it. Starting, for instance, with the definition.

What does it mean to be customer centric?

You put your customers first. Not many small businesses would say otherwise. But, as NGDATA writes, “businesses that take a customer-centric approach do more than say they put their customers first; they make it a priority to provide an exceptional customer experience at the point of sale and after the sale to increase profits and gain a competitive edge.”

Indeed, and that’s what it means to have a customer centric ethos in the day-to-day life of your business. “Truly customer-centric organizations identify their most valuable customers and ensure their satisfaction,” NGDATA continues. “In order to do this, organizations gather customer data from multiple sources and channels and target their most profitable customers with relevant offers at the right time.”

Data is where it all starts. When you have a solid understanding of your customers (everything from purchasing habits to interests to engagement history), that can inform your future business decisions. For example, you can get to know your audience better and find new ways to market to them when you use the core of Mailchimp’s Marketing Platform, our Marketing CRM. Here’s how you can start putting you data to work in 4 quick steps:

  • Collect all your contact data: Bring all your audience data into Mailchimp to start using ready-made segments.
  • Organize what you know: Create your own custom segments and tags to filter audience data however you need to.
  • Understand patterns in your data: Get to know your audience at a glance with your audience dashboard.
  • Turn audience insights into action: Set up automated messages to trigger based on specific segments or tags.

Looking to dive even deeper? Try these 4 simple steps to turn customer data into targeted campaigns that sell more stuff. You’ll learn how to collect, manage, and use audience data that will help you market smarter in Mailchimp.

Facing the challenges of becoming customer centric

Now that you know what it means to be customer centric and how a Marketing CRM solution can help get you there, let’s talk about the challenges. As the e-commerce world has grown and customers have been faced with ever more options for their buying needs, it’s become ever more simple for those consumers to quickly and easily compare brands. But if you’re going to be truly customer centric, you should start by taking a hard look at how you communicate within your company. For instance, there are a number of pain points that stop otherwise great companies from getting to where they need to be:

  • Poor communication between executive, mid-level, and frontline departments
  • Silos that make communication, shared goals, and data difficult or impossible
  • Under-empowered employees that can’t effect change at the company

Once your corporate ducks are in a row, and your communication is on point, it’s time to share customer information across departments. And Mailchimp can help you organize that customer data. In fact, when you use Mailchimp’s Marketing CRM, it’s easy to understand your data and make your marketing budget go further. We have a number of tools to help with these goals, and when you bring all your audience data into Mailchimp, you will start to:

  • Get a better sense of who your audience is: When you create a central location for customer data, you see a clearer picture of who you’re talking to.
  • Send the right content to the right people: When you use data to target your messages, it makes it easy to send content that matters to customers (which makes it more likely they’ll keep listening).
  • Find new ways to talk to people with common traits: Maybe you’ll discover that your customers often buy on Sundays, or that they all live in the Pacific Northwest. Whatever you find, it’s likely to spark some new campaign ideas.
  • Use your data to find new customers: Creating ads in Mailchimp means you can use your data to target the people most likely to love your brand, so you can get the most out of your budget.

Best practices for becoming customer centric

You’re well on your way to becoming customer centric now. You understand the definition, you’re avoiding the bad stuff and addressing the challenges, you’re even socializing customer data around your company. Next is a big step: what are some customer centric best practices?

According to the Harvard Business Review, the problem essentially distills down to data. “Why do so many companies struggle to get customer centricity right? The volume, velocity, and variety of customer data that now exists overwhelms many organizations. Some companies don’t have the systems and technology to segment and profile customers.”

Keeping that in mind, there are a few best practices that will help you stay on the right customer centric path:

To elaborate on that last one, this is trouble that HBR was speaking to. Getting the data is one thing. Sharing around your company is another. But actually analyzing it and formulating a strategy? That’s where a CRM comes in.

With Mailchimp’s Marketing CRM, you can easily gain insights about your audience. From there, our growth, engagement, and revenue reports will help you discover patterns in audience behavior to see what’s working with your marketing. Dive in and see what actions have led to a purchase, leave notes about individual preferences, and much more.

And once you’ve organized your customer data, you can start using those insights to make sure your marketing speaks to individual customers across marketing channels. Use Mailchimp’s personalization and automation tools to make campaigns feel like a 1-on-1 conversation—sending the right message at the right moment, and always making the right product recommendations.

How do you measure customer centricity?

When it comes to measuring customer centricity, there are a number of options. Some experts recommend customer measurement programs such as CSAT and NPS. Others suggest evaluating a series of different measurements:

  • Customer lifetime value: CLV is a measurement of how valuable a customer is to your business over time.
  • Purchase likelihood: Keeping customers is easier than acquiring new ones. Measuring your churn rate will help you improve retention.
  • RPX: Revenue per experience is another useful metric that can help you track the quality of marketing campaigns based on the effect they have on customer relationships.

But most of all, keep measuring! Apptentive writes, “It’s no longer good enough to simply measure once in awhile. You must keep a close eye on the pulse of your customer sentiment and continuously gauge how customers feel about their experience with your brand over time.

Having access to historical data not only gives you the opportunity to better understand each customer as an individual, it allows you to watch for trends in behavior and sentiment over time. The deeper your history with a customer, the easier it will be to predict their actions and, most importantly, deliver an engaging, personalized mobile experience.”

Congratulations, you’re customer centric!

OK, maybe not quite. But you’re getting very close. Some other tips:

To become truly customer centric requires marketing technology that starts with your customer at the heart of everything you do. Mailchimp’s pre-built segments can target with one click, our individual contact profiles are robust, and our customer lifetime value insights and purchase likelihood tools are here to help you be customer centric without building a solution from the ground up.

Best of all? There’s no need for multiple marketing solutions or to get a degree in marketing sciences. Our all-in-one Marketing Platform has you covered so you can be customer centric and market smarter.

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