How To Build A Customer-Centric Business Model: Strategies That Work
Building a customer-centric business model might seem plainly obvious. Yet, time and again, we come across ineffective (read: robotic) customer service.
This is usually followed by the solicitation of never used customer feedback spiel, which plays like a broken record.
Then, there are businesses such as Stew Leonard’s supermarkets. ‘The Rock’ in Stew Leonard’s has been around since its inception in 1969. It reads two rules. Rule one says that the customer is always right. And if that’s not the case, go to rule 2, which in turn asks you to read rule 1, again.
That’s one way to tell your employees that the customer is royalty. In this article, we aim to do exactly that: strategies you can use to create a customer-centric business model.
1. Do What Your Competitors Aren’t Doing
Sometimes, being an innovator is what it takes to make a great customer-centric business model. But that doesn’t mean your innovation has to be huge, or product-oriented.
Chick-Fil-A does this excellently. The brand not only serves great chicken but also great customer service.
There have been numerous articles about the fast-food chain’s customer service, but one thing it does that its competitors don’t (at least in the West) is simple: the servers serve food on the table.
Sometimes that’s all it takes – one additional, but simple step to make the customer feel comfortable. This small step may seem like a giant leap if you’re the only one doing it in the industry.
2. Be Proactive With The Customer
Chances are, if you ask an employee to point you to a certain product at a supermarket, they’ll do that. But, Trader Joe’s employees will go the extra mile. They’ll take you there and explain the product’s range and information to you if you’d like.
The best part is, they don’t do this reactively- they want to help.
It can become very difficult to reach out to a stranger for help- even if it is their job.
- The customer’s personality type
- The way the employee is standing/ behaving
- The general vibe customers get from the business.
All these things, among others, play a factor.
Therefore, it is up to you to train your employees to be a reaching hand and not something to be pulled at. A customer-centric business model/ approach such as this will only build trust in your brand and increase sales as a result.
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3. Do Product Innovation
If resources allow, product innovation can be a great way to make a customer-centric business model. Everybody’s talking about Amazon Fresh’s Dash shopping cart. What differentiates the shopping center from others, like Walmart, is its shopping cart.
It weighs, calculates the price of, and lets you pay for the goods you buy. It makes shopping easier. It makes the customer’s life easier.
Sometimes building a customer-centric business model, is less about the actual model and more about a product that can make the customer’s experience better.
Ask yourself, ‘what is wrong with the way things are going for customers in my industry?’. Chances are, you’ll come up with a few answers (in this case, shopping queues). If you can create a product to solve for that, you’re already halfway there.
4. Make Customer Navigation Easy
We’ve all been to those annoying websites that are just impossible to navigate. They’re frustrating, and unless essential, on the subconscious’s blacklist soon enough.
Customer navigation is a core part of a customer-centric business model. If your customer can’t explore your website, store, or service options, then they probably won’t make enough purchases. Or even one purchase, if the experience is frustrating enough.
Solve for this.
- Update your website, according to the latest design standards.
- Streamline your product or service categories
- Have tapes, guides, signposts, etc.. so that customers know where they’re going
- Make your space presentable
These are small steps that go a long way in making your business model customer-centric.
5. Go The Extra Mile For The Customer
Nordstrom’s customer service is legendary. Google, ‘Nordstrom customer’, and chances are Google will suggest ‘Nordstrom customer service stories’. That’s because going the extra mile for the customer has been embedded in Nordstrom DNA.
Doing small favors for the customer, making them feel like you’re their friend, taking care of their sometimes unnecessary needs- these things are usually only done in top tier hotels. But, adopting some of these practices, might help you build a loyal, stand-by-me customer base.
In this case, the customer returns because of the customer-centric business model that treats them like royalty and puts them on a metaphorical pedestal.
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6. Have Or Be Part Of An Annual Customer Focused Event
Everybody loves Black Friday. Maybe a little too much. But, Black Friday isn’t the only event you need to partake in. In fact, your event doesn’t even need to be a sale or only a sale.
Organizing and upholding a customer-focused fest, concert, a local watching party, or working with local authorities to create a multi-business yearly event is always an excellent idea.
It shows the customer that you appreciate them and be an integral addition to your customer-centric business model.
7. Remember Your Customers’ Birthdays
By this point, everyone knows that you can get a free drink on your birthday month at Starbucks. If you didn’t know, now you do! We can try and label this as a ‘marketing gimmick’. But, it’s still pretty cool when the business remembers your birthday.
It’s not just your birthday, but small details about your choices, your decisions that can make the customer feel a spotlight shining on them, if only for a moment.
This is the server asking you if you want your regular, the stadium cashier surprising you with free popcorn on your birthday, or your local business sending you a small card during Diwali.
Dates, events, and small details are important for us. Embedding their importance amongst your employees is a great way to make a customer-centric business model.
It works, almost all the time if it’s done with sincerity.
8. Ease Your Customer’s Conscience
Plastic is bad for the Earth. We all know that, millennials and Gen Z value that, especially. If your product and its packaging adhere to that, chances are your millennial customers will have a better time buying it.
Buying a product is great, buying it without remorse is better. By being sustainable, or practicing the ideals adhered to by your customers you make yourself, your business relatable.
By making products that align with the values of your customers, you make it easy on their conscience to make that purchase.
You, hence, make products easy to purchase. It’s a customer-centric business model that many organizations, such as Apple, are adhering to. And it helps, even if a little.
Small, but regularly practiced steps can help make your business model more customer-centric. It doesn’t have to start with innovating something revolutionary. Changes to your organization’s structure and how your employees interact with customers can help, greatly.
If you’re finding it difficult to know how to make your business model more customer-centric, put on a fake beard, some sunglasses and go shopping in your own supermarket, eat at your own restaurant, or engage with your customer service team. You’ll get your answers, right away.
Or, you can also take a look at this article, which is a great place to start if you want to create a customer-centric business model.