Customer focus can help small businesses stand out during a crisis. This is what it means and how you can apply it to your business.
Why do some companies struggle amid the current crisis and others seem to be fueled by it?
What is the difference between those who go under and those who’d rather jump to the next level?
While there are many different factors at play, there is one that is of vital importance especially for small and local companies: the level of their customer centricity. What is it and how can it help businesses rise and shine despite – and thanks to – the Coronavirus pandemic?
Customer centricity makes clients feel cared for
Customer centricity refers to putting a client in the center of the business. It can also be referred to as customer focus or customer orientation – a dear child has many names.
Especially in complicated times like the current pandemic, understanding and implementing this is key. It allows a business to make their clients feel cared for, and especially small and local companies have a unique chance to make themselves relevant in their community.
When a crisis threatens families’ financial stability, as this one very much has, weaving these relations is even more crucial for the survival of companies.
When clients feel supported in times of crisis, the bond that is created tends to carry beyond difficult times. For companies, this means loyal and long-lasting customer relationships.
Managers agree: customer focus counts
Sounds rather common sense, right?
Business managers agree: according to a survey conducted by Italian digital agency Arkage, more than eight out of ten managers evaluated that customer orientation is an effective growth strategy during the pandemic and also afterwards.
Managers are also confident that their business fares well in terms of customer centricity: seven out of ten respondents reported that there are no big obstacles in customer focus approach in their company.
Sadly, however, the consumers don’t agree with management.
What do customers think?
When consumers were asked about customer centricity, the answers were very different from managements’ point of view.
Only 37 percent of families – meaning less than every fourth participant – regarded that companies were being customer centric.
For example, every sixth family mentioned their insurance company had supported them during the hard time, and every seventh family said the same for their bank. Only one family out of seven felt supported by their local companies.
Supermarkets are the pandemic’s winners
Supermarkets fared a little bit better: more than every other family reported having received help from supermarkets. This can be achieved for example by offering flexible delivery options during lockdown or providing irresistible discounts.
Overall, less than 7 percent of families felt having received help from businesses during the pandemic, and less than 8 percent of participants were so touched by their service providers’ customer centricity and altruism during difficult times that they’d prefer them over competition.
For companies, these are wasted opportunities in loyalising their customers and guiding their business through the crisis with success.
The reason why businesses fail to understand their clients
Why have so many companies seem to have dropped the ball?
According to the Arkage’s survey, many companies over or underestimated the changes of consumer habits. For example, many managers seriously overestimated the growth of spending on home maintenance items and digital services, such as Netflix.
Put short, businesses failed to understand their clients’ behaviour and their needs. Despite highlighting the importance of customer focus, they lacked knowledge and insight that are vital to put those ideas into action.
What could companies do differently?
In order to be able to serve its customers well, a business needs to understand what those customers need and expect.
Luckily, this road block is relatively easy to overcome. Customer understanding doesn’t happen automatically, but it can be created for example through systematic customer interview, creating communities and focus groups, or conducting online surveys.
Do you want to make a difference?
Understanding rapidly changing customer needs is vital for companies during turbulent times. Would you like to help your favourite brands to survive the crisis and serve you and other consumers even better in the future?
Join our online panel and receive surveys that are tailored to your expertise and points of interest. Share your opinion and help businesses create better products and services – and get amazing prizes!
Photo © Gerd Altmann, Pixabay