Why Invest in Customer-Centricity?
Customer-centric business is not a curiosity anymore – it’s a requirement determined by shifting powers of the modern open, connected economy. Mistreated customers’ content becomes viral in hours and new startups pop up every week, challenging traditional industries with new thinking. If the experience is not built in a meaningful way, with respect to user needs and pains, the business is simply going to suffer.
We are not suggesting that moving to a customer-focused design model is simple and most of us understand the pain of transformation even at the smallest degree. However the steps to change are often more effective when starting small and there are costs that can be difficult to track – shifting the paradigm of working may face resistance from employees who are used to working a certain way and have all their habits and procedures in place.
Even though the early days of adjustment may be a challenge, applying customer-centric tactics will benefit everybody in the long run – your employees, the whole company and, most importantly, your customers.
THERE ARE THREE MAIN AREAS OF BENEFITS WHERE YOUR COMPANY CAN GAIN:
Building customer retention
According to award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy Roy Gaughran, ”it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one”.
Customer retention is one of the areas that many companies struggle with, whilst substantially overspending on marketing campaigns, either in traditional media or digital channels, such as PPC. Improving the way you provide your services to your customers directly influences the way they perceive your business and they are more willing to stay with you, even when facing lower prices offered by your competitors.
User-centric methodologies work perfectly for companies like MailChimp, who manage to keep over 10 million users happy and still paying – some of them have been using the same tool for years! This is because they managed to build a meaningful experience.
Nathan Shedroff, one of the pioneers of experience design, describes it as
one that reaches beyond the person’s functional, emotional and identity needs. It answers the key question of ‘Does this fit into my world?’ And if businesses focus on the meaning, and work from the centre out, the questions about price, performance, triggers and design decisions would sort out themselves.
The deeper you anchor your brand into the user’s life, the more sustainable relationship you will have and this is where the future of commercial success lies.
Reduce the risk of developing ineffective products and services
Many business decisions are made in disconnection from the end user. Sometimes, what makes sense for the business may not make sense for the end customer.
Therefore developing products without proper knowledge about who is going to use them, and how, is extremely risky. User-centered design provides frameworks for involving users throughout the design process, which allows to mitigate those risks. In the end, we are designing a product for them, not for ourselves.
Redoing unusable products, especially physical ones may be extremely costly. The digital field allows for more flexibility – pushing a new update of your app may take a couple of weeks of work. However there is always a cost associated – designers, developers, project management.
Savings resulting from a user-centered design process are concisely explained in this video, created by Dr. Susan Weinschenk, an expert in consumer psychology and user experience design:
As you see, user-centered design can help you minimise the two major risks in your product/service design:
- Solving the wrong problem
- Executing the solution in the wrong way
Providing your team with a clear vision
Most work environments are siloed and, for the sake of management, it makes a lot of sense. However sales, marketing, customer service or development teams often lack a common mission to fulfil. They are just working to meet their own department’s goals, without focusing on the bigger picture.
Becoming customer-centric can give your company a clear sense of direction and values. It can make sure that team members are not working to please their supervisors, but to please the customer. This approach has led companies such as Airbnb, Amazon and Zappos to take market-leading positions. Their employees, from the very first day at work, realise that they are working for the customer, that the customer pays their wages and funds their amazing offices. A study has shown that using a user-centered design methodology can increase employee effectiveness, and one of the factors to that is reducing stress related to making decisions. If you involve your users in design or business decisions regularly you have less variables to worry about when making a choice. Time you save on countless meetings and fights over small features is an added value. Having a common big picture is crucial in making people work together.