Many companies talk about customer centricity or tote themselves as ‘customer centric’, but what does that actually mean? What is it? Why is it important? How do we implement it? These are all questions about customer centricity we ask ourselves. 

So let’s start with our definition of customer centricity: To provide a truly excellent customer experience during the entire customer lifecycle, starting with the sales process and continuing to every interaction with an existing customer. 

Now that we have a definition, how do we achieve it? To start, let’s break a common misconception: it is the Customer Success teams’ sole responsibility to think through the customers lens or align to the customer needs. This is simply not true. The most successful companies make the customer and the customer experience a key metric that all organizations align around. What this teaches us is that companies should look holistically through the customer’s lens in everything they do – but how do you get there? To share how we think of customer centricity, we went to our organizational leaders of Client Services, Product and Sales and asked them: How do you keep customers at the center of your mission?

How we look at the roles of the different organizations in connection to the customer:

Customer Success: The customers advisor and voice 

Product: The customers innovator and enabler 

Sales:  The future customers/prospects problem solver

How do you tie customer centricity into the product team? 

It’s critical that you build what the customers want. It seems simple, just ask them what they want and build it. However, it’s more intricate than that. From existing customers you will get specific product requests. It can be difficult to sort through the requests, decide which to focus on, while working towards more visionary functionality. Taking the approach of looking at what the customer is trying to solve for,  what pain they are feeling, and what job they are trying to complete can help. Don’t just look at it as individual requests but put a theme behind it. Then when sorting the requests you’ll be able to see common problems that have the same solution, enabling you to create a product or feature to solve them all – helping more customers at once. 

How does this align with the sales side of things? 

Having a once-off relationship is no longer how the market works, it’s now an on-going relationship cycle. You have to be able to secure their business month over month by putting the customer at the forefront. To achieve this, we recommend doing away with the one-size fits all sales process and replacing it with a customer buying journey. This shift allows you to be more flexible and provide a customized journey for each customer.

We think of it as a solution sale – customers are no longer buying a piece of software , but rather investing in a partnership. Customers rely on their partners to make their lives easier, and this extends past the software they are purchasing and into  the product team, customer success team, and support team who are there to help at every step of the  journey. 

Putting your prospects, as future customers, first is key. Onboard customers throughout the sales process, use their data when you demo, and change the narrative from ‘this is how we sell’ to ‘this is how our customer wants to buy.’

Prioritization is Key 

When you get a lot of feedback/requests coming in it can be a huge challenge to navigate. Learning to balance new functionality (sales + customers) vs. investing in your existing functionality (support + customers) is crucial. Using a prioritization matrix where you can combine feedback from existing customers and feedback from the market/prospects allows you to balance both sides. From there you can look at the trends and make a well rounded decision. 

Doing this goes hand in hand with using Agile development methodologies. Shortened sprint cycles (2 weeks) make it easier to respond to customer feedback, instead of only getting to it once a year. Utilizing this methodology makes it easier to slot in new priorities if they come up. By marrying the prioritization matrix and agile methodology, you create a way to keep the customers at the forefront of every product decision. 

Three Teams Acting as One

The best thing to do to ensure customer centricity is to align on common goals across the organization. Getting customers live and successful is not a customer success or onboarding task – it is a cross functional one. It is up to sales to sell the right deals to the right customers, it is up to customer success and onboarding to implement the customer the right way that meets their needs and solves their pain, and it is up to product to provide and invest in a product that delights customers from the time they sign up to well into the future. Across each of these functions, making sure to balance the weight of your customers’ need at each stage of their life cycle is important.  It is not enough to delight a customer when they are first making the buying decision. To truly be customer centric you need to delight them when they are first starting to use your product and being educated, as well as when they have been a long standing customer and are experts on your platform. To achieve this – each member of your cross functional team has a role to play.

Don’t assume. Stay connected. 

The current climate with Covid-19 has changed the way we do things and how we communicate to each other. We used to have in-person meetings, or be able to get in face time  easily. Now we are learning to over communicate, to make sure we are all working towards the same mission and goals. It’s about consistent and constant communication that helps break down assumptions, misunderstandings, and keeps everyone accountable. Having weekly check-ins between the Customer Success, Sales and Product teams to discuss the roadmap, prioritization, and different trends you are seeing in the market (and how they impact our customers) has allowed us personally to stay on track with being customer focused.  

Net net, collaboration is king! There are various collaboration tools out there. Some that we use are zoom and slack, they have been critical during this time and utilizing them as much as possible has been key. Product tools such as Jira have been great. They were set up and utilized pre-covid and have been instrumental in making sure everyone is focused on the same priorities. Creating additional dashboards in Salesforce has also ensured we are aligning around a single source of truth. 

Motivating the teams to think in a customer centric way

Making sure each team member understands their impact on your customer helps keep the team focused and motivated. Something as simple as passing on a delighted customers’ quote to the developers and product manager who designed and built that functionality makes sure that traditionally non-customer facing functions get direct feedback on how their products are being used.  

Direct customer calls also ensure product owners understand a customers goal, pain or feedback – ensuring nothing is lost in translation.

Wrapping Up

It can be easy to get lost in the details of creating a cool new product or selling the ‘way we always have’ but make sure you aren’t losing sight of your customers and their feedback.

To truly be customer centric it takes the whole team. From supporting the customer in their buying journey to enabling them through their onboarding to impacting their success while they stay with you over the years – each function has an important role to play. 

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