Customer Centricity is not really a new concept in marketing. Yet, many companies are far from putting the customer at the center of their business practices. This is not only a good idea, but indispensable in order to be competitive in the long term and sustainably.
If the costly, innovative marketing campaign doesn't work as planned, the reach is stagnating, the bounce rate is stagnating at a high level despite various measures or you hardly get any response to interactive offers, the disappointment is understandably great.
This makes it all the more important to evaluate your own marketing strategy in terms of its customer centricity. For all B2B companies that consider sales to be the navel of the world, the following applies: If you don't honor the customer, you're not worth the money.
Customer Centricity B2B - the Challenge
CYBEX, a manufacturer of baby carriages, was faced with the challenge of competing with its competitors in order to consolidate its own market share. The company commissioned a software manufacturer to develop a premium configurator that allows customers maximum individuality when designing their stroller and turns the purchase into a design experience.
With this, the company apparently hit a nerve. The anticipation of becoming a parent coupled with the special added value of a highly individual experience and a unique design increased the brand's awareness and popularity. The unique selling proposition helped CYBEX to expand and consolidate its market share.
Why Is Customer Centricity Important in B2B?
The baby carriage manufacturer is no exception. A number of small and medium-sized companies, but also international corporations, are noticing a trend that gives much more weight to customer wishes than in the past. Customer Centricity in the B2B context is more challenging than in B2C due to the high need for explanation and consultation of the products. The generous offer as well as uncomplicated and promptly available alternatives have increased the demands of customers.
The question of customer centricity is therefore not if, but when.
In a fast-moving age with an abundance of offers, the customer has a choice. They also make use of this choice, for example if they feel they have been processed by mass emails, are dissatisfied with the conditions or simply find everything faster, less complicated and more personal with the competition.
What is Customer Centricity in B2B?
In customer-centric corporate strategies, the value chain begins with the customer. His wishes, problems and expectations and not the product form the starting point of all marketing measures.
What does the customer long for?
How does he feel in the face of a cumbersome problem?
How can you make his life even easier?
These characteristics are not static, but dynamic and vary depending on the buying phase the customer is in. The sales funnel is a customer-centric marketing model for aligning marketing efforts with respect to the phases of this "sales funnel."
A customer who has already purchased a certain product is more likely to be annoyed by another promotional email for the same product. Conversely, a potential buyer may decide in favor of another supplier who provides him with comprehensive and professional advice (e.g. in the form of a white paper) earlier.
Customer Centricity B2B: Here's How It Works Today
Fast-moving times with short product lifecycles mean that there is a high level of customer turnover, which needs to be addressed strategically if you don't want to be displaced by more innovative or customer-focused competitors.
The top priority is to take customer wishes into account depending on the purchase phase, to maintain communication that is as personalised as possible, to make individual offers and to create added value for the customer in every respect.
This strengthens customer loyalty and extends customer lifetime. Strengths can be developed into a unique selling proposition and, with skilful implementation and a niche position, can even result in a market monopoly. Customer satisfaction is always at the center of all efforts.
The customer-centric approach will now bear fruit if it is implemented holistically in all areas of the company. The most sophisticated marketing concept will not have any impact unless sales, customer service and others have also internalized the principles of Customer Centricity.
Customer Centricity as the Interface of 3 Sub-Areas
In theory, Customer Centricity is the interface of three sub-areas:
Customer Value refers to the benefit to the customer. This can include the solution of a problem or the simplification of certain processes.
The Customer Lifecycle describes the different phases in the sales funnel.
Customer experience refers to the experiences that the customer has at all touchpoints during the purchasing process. As many positive customer experiences as possible have a positive effect on customer loyalty.
All three areas must harmonize in order to accompany the customer on his customer journey. This requires the identification and analysis of all touchpoints.
Implementing Customer Centricity
The strategy must become an intrinsic part of the corporate identity and be internalized and lived by every single employee. For the successful implementation of customer centricity in one's own company, a change of perspective is indispensable. Instead of acting from an inside-out perspective as before, all decisions are made from an outside-in perspective. The restructuring of all processes takes time until the change of perspective is consistently applied to all company processes.
Concrete guidelines help with the holistic implementation and anchoring of the new strategy from the management level down to the ordinary worker.
The Importance of Data for Customer Centricity
The basic prerequisite for customer centricity is sufficiently detailed and specific data. Variables capture the wishes, problems and information needs of customers, but also demographic characteristics such as age, place of residence, previous purchasing behavior or income class.
The data comes from the company's own CMS (Customer Management System), social media, customer interviews or tracking via cookies. Integrative solutions include apps for creating buyer personas, a customer segmentation tool. Other approaches include the Lean Startup Method or Value Proposition Canvas. They allow a targeted customer approach with precise consideration of the customer's individual situation.
In a KPI dashboard, strategic questions can be clearly analyzed, prepared and visually displayed with important key figures. For example, only the purchases of new customers or the success of certain marketing measures can be examined. Successes and failures are made measurable and serve as a future decision-making basis for a proactive design of the touchpoints.
Marketing measures for more customer centricity in B2B
Especially in the B2B sector, trust is indispensable to bring about a positive customer experience and thus a purchase. After structuring and digitizing the collected knowledge about the customer, these insights are used to design all touchpoints with the customer efficiently, individually and positively.
A personalized email marketing ensures that the customer feels individually advised instead of dispatched. The information provided is appropriate for the respective point in the customer journey.
Advice is always customer-focused, not product-focused
A personalized approach takes into account the customer's preferred channels of communication.
Solution-oriented and accommodating complaint management gives the customer the feeling of being put first.
Professional content marketing prepares information in a target group-oriented and practical manner.
An uncomplicated, flexible and fast purchase process is essential to keep the bounce rate as low as possible.
Conclusion: Your customer belongs at the center of your marketing activities
If you want to establish yourself on the market in the long term, consolidate your market share, increase customer loyalty and extend customer lifetime, you cannot avoid making customer centricity the central pivot of your company.