A lot has been written about the importance of having a “customer-centric” company culture. This is especially true when operating subscription business models, or any business that depends on customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
Can you determine if your company is truly customer-centric or just saying so? Here are three questions to consider:
What Do You Celebrate?
I’m a believer in “tone at the top.” The successes that the CEO celebrates will ripple down throughout the company and shape its culture.
If a business only celebrates the ringing of the sales gong for landing a new customer, then the culture is probably sales-centric.
A customer-centric company also celebrates winning new customers, but it needs to celebrate other important customer milestones too. Milestones that occur after the customer is acquired. For example, large customer go-lives, publication of a case study where a customer achieved a huge ROI, renewals, positive customer ratings, etc.
It doesn’t matter which post-sale milestones that a company celebrates. Rather, it matters most that the accolades are on equal footing with new customer acquisition in terms of what gets recognized and rewarded.
Which Metrics are Used?
As the saying goes, “Expect what you inspect.” What does the company measure and hold people accountable to? Customer acquisition metrics? Or something broader that includes the post-sale success of each customer?
Everybody tracks acquisition metrics such as number of new customers, value of new revenue, growth rates of the sales pipeline, and so on.
What are the post-sale metrics that are inspected by the executive team and used to reward performance? Examples could include retention rate, renewal rate, Lifetime Value, Net Promoter Score ℠, year-over year customer growth, etc.
Furthermore, what role do those metrics play in employee compensation, performance reviews, promotions, or other employee retention and growth programs?
How Do You Collect and Use Feedback?
What role do your customers play in determining future company priorities?
Companies that are customer-centric have formal, continuous feedback gathering processes. Those feedback processes create structured findings and those findings lead to action. We wrote about this approach in further detail here.
The best evidence of whether feedback is driving the business is twofold.
First, your product roadmap is a reflection of the themes that emerge from the feedback you are gathering. Roadmaps can also contain improvements for other reasons such as competition and specific customers or customer segments. But some significant portion of the resources used to deliver the roadmap are driven by customer feedback patterns.
Second, there are projects and initiatives in your company that were birthed in response to customer feedback. There are myriad examples, including sales training to better qualify customers’ fit to your product, changes in how the contact center delivers support, and many more. These projects are initiated and monitored by executives to ensure they deliver the expected improvements.
The benefit of being customer-centric is to enjoy great outcomes such as high retention rates, customer advocacy and expansion sales. It starts with an honest assessment of the culture. Leaders must then guide the company towards celebrating the right victories, having the right metrics in place and actively using customer feedback to drive improvement.