27.09.2017

rpc Insights: Customer Centricity in the Digital Age

rpc Insights show you our selected rpc expert knowledge on diverse questions every retail oriented company has to deal with. 

 

This blog article was also published on LinkedIn.

 

 

It’s a whole journey, not a single destination: customer centricity in the digital age

 

By Anja Eimer

 

 

“Put the customer at the heart of everything you do”. We are all familiar with statements like this and yet, while many of us will nod our heads in agreement to the notion of customer-centricity, how many businesses really pull it off? This article looks at what it means to be customer-centric and why customer-centricity and the customer journey is becoming so important to businesses.

 

Crucially, it asks: What is key to creating a customer-centric business? 

 

The emergence of the digital era has seen the classical sales funnel evolve into a customer journey – a series of touchpoints which can be accessed during an increasingly non-linear process. Think about your own customer journey when buying a product. You might jump between the different physical and digital touchpoints using different channels (retail stores, web pages, or Apps) as you transition through the different stages, which include awareness and purchase. 

 

For a business, this means organizing and managing a very complex set of touchpoints and customer interactions. One of the challenges lies in the complexity of interlinking changing customer needs across physical and digital channels and the business structure. Customers have changing demands on diverse product portfolios, as well as changing behaviors, which include accessing a greater number of digital touchpoints. 


A key advantage of the digital age is the ability to use data to drive activity and customer journey management. Digital touchpoints mean it is easier than ever to capture data from the customer and analyze their behavior in order to continually refine the customer journey. Despite increased digitalization, however, it would be a mistake to assume there will only be customers with digital preferences, so integration of physical and digital touchpoints (the ‘phygital’), found throughout the customer journey, is key. This will only work, then, if all physical touchpoints are connected to the same data systems, and if sales and marketing staff is trained and motivated to capture all relevant information of customer interactions.

 

Apple positions itself as a company that defines customer-centricity; a company that approaches everything it does with the customer as the starting point. It uses consumer engagement to understand precisely what its customers want and then offers it to them via the channel of their choice. The entire wholesale and service structure is finely tuned to deliver a truly customer-centric experience. 

 

Here are just some of the features of Apple, or Amazon, which demonstrate the customer-centric approach:

 

  • All customer touchpoints provide the same customer experience.
  • The customer has full transparency on pricing, which wins trust.
  • The customer has one single ID which can be used for all services and touchpoints. 
  • All processes are optimized to enhance customer convenience (e.g. omni-channel customer interaction).
  • An innate understanding of consumer behavior creates an effortless customer experience. 

 

The aim of the customer-centric model and managing customer journeys is to enhance the customer experience at every touchpoint thereby driving decisions and enhancing customer loyalty. A customer-centric approach adds value to a business through delivery of a differentiated customer-experience. Apple and Amazon provide inspiration and examples – your business can do it too.

 

About the author:

Anja Eimer is a Senior Consultant at rpc – The Retail Performance Company and specialized on the development of customer-centric sales models by setting up a company specific sales strategy, analyzing and adapting also the business model.