Customer centricity: how putting buyers first boosts business

Customer Centricity
What is customer centricity? A clear definition
The business case for a customer-centric approach
7 ways to build a customer-centric culture
3 great customer centricity examples
Final thoughts

Your company’s success depends on how its customers feel.

If your customers are happy and get value from your product, they’ll keep buying and encourage others to do the same. If their experience is negative, they’ll soon turn to your competitors.

This is why putting buyers first when making strategic decisions – an approach called customer centricity – is a no-brainer.

In this article, we’ll expand on customer centricity’s meaning by explaining its key advantages, showing how to make your business more customer-centric and providing real-world examples for inspiration.

What is customer centricity? A clear definition

Customer centricity is a business approach that prioritizes delivering exceptional value and customer experiences over selling products to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships.

Being customer-centric means placing customers at the center of all business decisions, especially those that impact sales, marketing and customer service touchpoints.

It involves proactively collecting and acting on customer feedback rather than relying on retroactive feedback via customer support.

Customer centricity is as much about enticing existing customers as it is about acquiring new ones. It results in stronger relationships where customers feel more valued, leading to a more profitable business in the long run.

The process can be as simple as asking, “What could we do to improve our service?” and then using the response to improve your product.

For example, a customer-centric business might learn from feedback that it’s important to its customers to offer a range of contact options rather than just one channel – a decision that helps it outperform its closest competitors.

Customer-centric business contact options example

Non-customer-centric business contact options example

Welcomes inquiries via multiple forms (e.g., email, phone, web form, chatbot and live chat.)

Requires customers to get in touch via phone only and with limited availability.

The customer-centric (or client-centric) business’s audience can get answers in ways that suit their lifestyles and preferences. The added flexibility and convenience make buyers more likely to convert and value their purchases.

Customer centricity takes time and a solid strategy to get right. It requires sales reps, marketers, support agents and account managers to fully understand their ideal buyers’ needs, preferences and behaviors.

Then, teams can tailor their solutions and recommendations to delight customers and drive long-term success.

Note: Customer centricity is related to customer experience (CX). CX is your company’s interactions with customers from their point of view. Customer centricity is an ethos your business adopts to ensure a high-quality experience.

The business case for a customer-centric approach

Prioritizing customers is an effective strategy in any industry. It’s proven to boost sales, encourage repeat business and build loyalty and advocacy.

In a Gladly survey, 72% of buyers said they would spend more with brands that deliver great customer experiences (CX). Almost three-quarters (73%) also said they want to be treated like people and not case numbers when receiving customer service. Both CX and service are key components of customer centricity.

Customer centricity chart

Meeting these customers’ expectations will help you win their business from less considerate competitors.

Here are the benefits of customer centricity in more detail.

Increased customer loyalty (and reduced churn)

Prioritizing customer needs and providing exceptional experiences helps you build stronger, more profitable buyer relationships. Customers will grow to trust your service and have little reason to look elsewhere.

It’s an advantage that reveals itself differently depending on your business model.

For a customer-centric transactional business, like a business-to-consumer (B2C) retailer, it shows in repeat purchases, upselling and cross-selling.

For a subscription-based business, like a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, it translates into increased customer retention and lower churn rates.

Speaking to Custify, entrepreneur Matthew Ramirez explained how customer-centric product development helped his company, Rephrasely, keep customers:

In the past, our product roadmap prioritized features over customer engagement despite receiving customer feedback. However, when we shifted our focus to factors like customer engagement, user experience and overall customer satisfaction, our customer retention rate improved by 15%. Incorporating customer feedback into our product roadmap enhanced our product’s user-friendliness, leading to increased sales.

The result is a higher average customer lifetime value (CLV, which is the net profit attributed to your entire relationship with one customer) in both B2C and B2B contexts, a clear, reliable sign of improving business performance.

Improved brand reputation

When customers feel valued, they’re more likely to share positive experiences through word-of-mouth and online reviews.

Generating social proof like this is one of the most efficient and effective ways to get new customers. Forrester found that 90% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers trust recommendations from industry peers, compared with 29% who trust vendors’ salespeople.

For example, Patagonia has built a passionate fan base through two forms of customer centricity:

  • Delivering innovative new products that solve the challenges of a well-defined target audience (i.e., minimizing environmental impact while buying high-quality clothing)

  • Providing exceptional experiences across the customer journey, from awareness to post-sale care

As a result, people often talk positively about Patagonia as a brand, marketing it and gaining other potential customers’ trust for free.

Informed product and service development

When a business actively solicits feedback and listens to customer insights (both critical parts of becoming more customer-centric), it can:

  • Identify areas for improvement

  • Uncover new opportunities

  • Develop offerings that better meet customer needs

For example, Pipedrive uses its community forum to invite ideas and product feedback from users. It involves customers in Pipedrive’s ongoing development, helping ensure the product always meets their evolving needs and preferences.

Customer centricity: How Pipedrive uses its community forum to get feedback and ideas for new features and products.

Other ways to collect first-hand insights from real customers include web forms, chatbots, email surveys and sales conversations. We’ll explore these and more in the next section.

7 ways to build a customer-centric culture

You can’t build a customer-centric organization overnight, but the sooner you start taking steps in the right direction, the sooner you’ll see the benefits.

Here are seven simple ways to put customers first.

1. Collect plenty of (the right) customer data

Effective customer centricity starts with understanding your customers.

Collect relevant data through various channels such as surveys, website analytics and social media interactions to gain insights into customer behaviors, preferences and pain points.

Having this data will allow you to tailor your sales, marketing and product development efforts for the best possible outcomes.

A simple place to start is to ask customers about their preferred contact methods. You can focus your cold outreach efforts on those channels to make sales conversations as convenient as possible. You could then add a forum or web form dedicated to feature requests.

You can also use website analytics to learn which product features get the most attention.

For instance, if a large section of your traffic ends up on a landing page for your solution’s artificial intelligence (AI) features, it’s a sign that AI is a significant selling point. You could emphasize this in other marketing and sales enablement content.

Note: The first step in using social media to learn about customers’ challenges and expectations is understanding where your ideal customers spend time. Use website analytics to see which platforms drive most of your traffic, track industry trends and ask existing customers which sites they prefer. Check out our guide on social selling to learn more.

2. Organize that data for easy access and reporting

Organize your customer data in a centralized system for easy access and reporting. It’ll give your business a single source of truth on customer expectations to keep all teams’ efforts consistent.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is your friend here. It allows you to store, analyze and leverage customer information effectively.

Every record you keep in Pipedrive, whether a deal, person or organization, gets a detail view containing essential information. The view shows contact details, activities, pipeline stages and more.

Customer Centricity: How Pipedrive’s detail view keeps all essential information conveniently organized in one place.

You can also add files, emails and notes as you collect extra insights (e.g., on behavior or preferences).

Store detailed pain points for each buying committee member to help salespeople tailor their outreach, for example, or keep your client’s latest product documentation to better understand their business.

3. Collect feedback to measure your customer centricity

Monitor the impact of your customer-centric decisions to find repeatable wins and improvement opportunities.

Naturally, you’ll want to see sales and retention rates grow, which will happen eventually, but direct customer feedback is a more immediate sign of how you’re doing.

Actively solicit customer feedback instead of waiting for it to come to you. Use customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys, web forms and sales conversations to ask buyers about their recent experiences with your brand and product. Then, use this information to drive continuous improvement.

You can also use net promoter score (NPS) surveys to gauge sentiment across your customer base. Here, you ask people how likely they are to recommend your company or service to others, usually on a scale of 1–10 or 1–100.

How Pipedrive allows you to collect feedback to measure your customer centricity.

Standardized results like this are easy to compare over time, so you and your team can see the impact of your hard work.

Note: Nicereply is an all-in-one survey tool that integrates with Pipedrive. It lets you use CSAT and NPS surveys to measure the quality of your deal management, which should increase as you embrace customer centricity.

4. Collaborate with customer-facing teams

Work closely with customer success and account management teams to gather insights from the inquiries, complaints and feedback they receive. Use this information to spot trends and areas for improvement across the business.

For example, receiving lots of complaints about one feature suggests your product doesn’t meet users’ expectations in that area. Addressing the issue will help you keep sentiment high and customers on board.

Decube is one company that lets customer feedback influence its product development, as this LinkedIn update shows:

How customer centricity can influence product development via customer feedback.

By opening its post with “you asked, we listened”, the data software vendor positions itself as a customer-centric company and shows that it values users’ opinions.

Meanwhile, a spike in inquiries about a single feature tells you prospects need more upfront information. Publishing new in-depth content will help streamline people’s buying journeys, increasing sales.

5. Automate after-sales check-ins and content recommendations

A thoughtful after-sales strategy encourages repeat business and brand advocacy.

Gartner found that buyers who experienced a high-quality customer support interaction were 82% more likely to buy again or renew their agreement when offered the chance to switch to another brand.

Reaching out to new customers individually takes time. However, automating repetitive after-sales activities means you can continue delivering value without distracting teams from more pressing work.

Use a CRM with email automation to trigger personalized messages at predetermined stages after someone becomes a customer.

For example, you could automate the following drip campaign to keep new customers engaged and feeling valued.

In cases where customers need extra support or make further inquiries, support or account reps can step in to provide personalized information. Until then, you still offer thoughtful, customer-centric after-sales service without committing any resources.

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6. Make your brand easily accessible

Convenience and communication are critical components of customer centricity, so ensure your brand is easy to contact.

Accessibility will help your business in the following ways:

  • It stops customers from getting frustrated and switching to a competitor or sharing their negative experience

  • It allows prospects to get the information they need to buy with confidence

  • It helps existing customers get more value from your products, making them more likely to stay loyal and spread positive word of mouth

The two key accessibility aspects to consider are availability (i.e., when people can reach you) and platform choice.

A Khoros study found that 62% of customers want to be able to engage with brands across multiple digital channels and 79% expect fast responses.

Email, phone and social media are non-negotiables, but you can bolster your offering with the following channels:

For example, using chatbots to answer basic inquiries lets you offer good customer service in real time without employing extra staff.

Khoros also found that 77% of buyers want brands’ internal teams to collaborate so they don’t have to repeat themselves. Recording all interactions in a CRM keeps customer-facing teams aligned by creating a single source of truth.

7. Put customers at the heart of your marketing

Involving customers in your marketing breaks the rigid buyer-seller dynamic that stops many people from trusting brands.

It demonstrates authenticity by showing how your product benefits real people. It also makes your product more relatable and helps existing customers feel valued, as they become part of your brand story.

There are various types of customer-centric marketing to consider. Here are three of the easiest to get started with:

  • Case studies: stories that show how your product achieved a desired outcome for a customer. They provide real-life examples of success, build credibility and show your brand’s value.

  • Testimonials: short statements from satisfied customers that endorse your product. They add social proof to reassure potential buyers about your offering’s quality.

  • User-generated content (UGC): content your customers create that showcases their brand experiences. It fosters community engagement, particularly on social media.

Zapier’s customer-centric marketing is a great example. Instead of explaining all the potential applications of its automation software, the company tells stories of real customers who’ve achieved their desired outcomes.

How Zapier uses successful Case Studies to express its customer centricity.

Zapier’s case study makes the company more relatable and trustworthy to potential customers, as implied by the line, “Companies like yours use Zapier to grow faster”.

3 great customer centricity examples

Customer-centric companies in your industry and beyond can offer helpful inspiration for your customer-focused initiatives.

Here are three real-world examples of customer-centric strategies in action.

1. Pipedrive’s customizations and integrations

Pipedrive’s extensive customization and integration potential lets customers tailor the product to their needs without extra investment.

How Pipedrive expresses customer centricity by letting customers tailor the product to their needs.

For example, a small business owner who signs up for Pipedrive can keep integrating new features to support their company’s growth or even create their own integration using Pipedrive’s API, access to which is free with every plan.

Giving users the freedom to personalize their sales tool helps create positive customer experiences and makes it easier for Pipedrive to build long-term relationships with loyal customers.

Pipedrive user and Redlist Head of Sales Robert Williams said of his experience:

“We use Pipedrive entirely for our CRM. We use a lot of tools within Pipedrive. I’ve built full outbound prospecting cadences based on workflow automations. We use it to manage everything from outbound prospecting to managing our main sales pipeline, to managing our customer renewal pipeline.

Right now, we’ve got about seven salespeople and they’re all sending between three and four proposals a week. Do the math, even if it’s only saving us two hours per, that’s a whole extra day I’m getting out of the guys for each person on the team, so each week I’m gaining a week’s worth of productivity.”

2. Asana’s customer-driven product roadmap

Asana prioritizes customer feedback and input in its product development roadmap, as the company’s former head of customer journey, Michael Nguyen, explained in a Codementor interview.

How Asana strategy for customer centricity is listening closely to customers to align with their needs and expectations.

Listening so closely to customer views helps the company align its tool’s evolution with users’ needs and expectations. The user-first business strategy has also made Asana hugely popular in the project management software market.

Asana has used many learning methods we’ve covered in this post, including collecting data from frontline teams and various surveys.

3. Spotify’s hyper-personalized user experience

Spotify delivers hyper-personalized user experiences through recommendation algorithms, AI-powered virtual DJs and curated playlists.

Spotify is all-in in customer centricity by delivering hyper-personalized user experiences.

By analyzing listening habits, preferences and interactions, it tailors playlists and music recommendations to each user’s tastes and moods, keeping customers engaged with the platform for longer.

Spotify’s customer-centric approach strengthens customer loyalty and encourages positive word of mouth. Time reports that 156 million people engaged with the streaming platform’s “Wrapped” campaign in 2022, with many sharing their personalized listening reports and playlists.

Final thoughts

There’s no downside to becoming more customer-centric.

Following the advice in this post and putting customers first, you can learn more about your target audience, build stronger relationships and ultimately boost your bottom line.

As you make strategic changes to prioritize your audience, track key sales metrics like customer lifetime value, retention rates and sentiment. You’ll soon see the figures rise in response to your hard work.

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