CEO and Founder, Best Practice Institute, West Palm Beach, FL
Being consumer-centric is one of the most significant aspects of any company or organization. One could even argue that it is the most important aspect of an organization’s existence.
We see examples of consumer-centric operations in business sectors, such as healthcare, hospitality, finance and consumer products, but, by and large, these same operations, which are supposed to be more consumer-centric, are the ones that are not.
Giving the consumer the highest degree of importance has obvious benefits. If you would like to make your organization more consumer-centric, here are a few steps that you can take:
1. Interact Directly with Consumers
The best example of direct interaction is Amazon, a company that asks the consumer directly for their opinion, in order to build the ‘Earth’s most consumer-centric company.’
To implement that slogan, the CEO and the board of directors interact closely with the consumer base through various surveys and social media platforms designed to build better relationships. Close social interaction turns the consumer into a vital part of the company itself, ensuring that consumers never feel like they are just a transaction. When a consumer is regarded as a part of the company, their value multiplies for employees and new customer prospects.
2. Align Employees by Setting Goals
Consumer-centricity happens when everyone is on the same page. Each employee puts themselves in the shoes of their customers—or in healthcare, their patients—to better understand how to approach each given task.
Arrange multi-department brainstorming sessions, with representatives from each department within the organization, or, in the case of smaller companies, the entire staff together.
Airbus brings all the departments within its structure together to generate ideas. Enhancement of customer experience, the focal point of these meetings, has proven very fruitful. Other examples of organizations that adopt this whole-system methodology include Allstate and NASA.
3. Understand Consumer Demands Precisely
Gear the entire organization’s efforts toward fulfilling the demands of the consumers they are serving. This direct involvement in serving the consumer changes the attitude of each employee and management, making everyone more consumer-centric.
Closely monitor the behavior of consumers and their opinions regarding the organization. Forums, social media platforms and blog sites are the best places to look for such feedback online. For physical indications, compare your direct sales numbers with those of your competitors.
The best example of this is Apple, whose customer research policy is built into their live customer service procedures. When a consumer is politely asked about their preferences, their specifications are noted, and the collected data contributes to a better product.
4. Channel Consumer Feedback into Improvement
Understand and act upon what consumers communicate about an organization, product or service as soon as possible. The consumer is likely to adopt another organization’s substitute services if no change is seen. There are a multitude of options, so act expeditiously. Making immediate changes also has the added advantage of giving the impression that the organization cares about its consumers or customers.
Using consumer analytics is one way to act quickly and make effective, data-driven decisions, and nobody uses it better than Netflix. Netflix offered a $1 million prize to anyone who could design an algorithm that would capture consumer behavior in the most accurate manner. To this day, Netflix continues the practice of utilizing award-winning algorithms, and it is taking the on-demand streaming industry by storm.
Some of the best examples of consumer-centricity come from industries and organizations that are completely different from your own. When you hunt for ways to improve your consumer approach, think about how you would like to be treated as a consumer and design a program from that perspective. In our company, our computer programming takes advantage of a technique called user-side testing. I tell them to become the consumer after they are done. Did they experience it in a way that made them smile? If not, I ask them to go back and try again, because chances are when they turn over the working code to me, if they aren’t smiling, I won’t be smiling either.