Building products is a complex process. We will fail at delivering successful products if we don’t have a complete understanding of the market or customer. We’ll also fail if we don’t work cross-functionally to solve actual customers’ problems.
One of the most critical factors in delivering and building a successful product is being customer-centric.
In this article, we will discuss customer centricity in detail. We’ll answer critical questions that will help you thrive in your journey of being a customer-centric company with customer-centric product managers.
All products are built to serve the customers and solve their problems. Ultimately, customer centricity (or being customer-centric) means that the company or the product manager puts the customer — aka the user — at the center of their product development process. This includes understanding and embracing the following:
Being able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and understand what they go through in their daily life, routines, scenarios, and interactions with products is one of the first components of being customer-centric.
You are there to employ technology to solve their problems. Being able to understand the ins and outs of their problems is one of the core factors of being customer-centric. Understanding the problem completely will allow you to build the optimal solution for them.
Your customers have opinions and expectations of how their problems will be solved. One of the competencies required to be customer-centric is the ability to elicit their opinions and point-of-views on how the solution would look.
Customers need to feel that they are heard and their opinions matter.
Building a one-time solution is not enough. A good company and PM would iterate to improve the solution and enhance customers’ experience. Understanding customers’ experience when using the solution to their problems is one of the most critical steps to being fully customer-centric. By recruiting different methods and tools, you can work hand-by-hand with your customers to understand their experience.
Being customer-centric means understanding every aspect of the customer through qualitative and quantitative data, thereby making their lives easier through your solution.
Customer centricity is a mindset and a culture, not just a set of methods and techniques. Becoming customer-centric means taking your customers seriously before every small and big initiative. This will come with multiple benefits, some of which are:
According to multiple resources and paper research, more than 70 percent of customers of US-based companies said that the experience they go through using the product is crucial for them to either promote the product or not.
Being customer-centric will help companies come up with top-notch product experiences that can potentially increase NPS.
Being customer-centric will help you and your team be more engaged in product development. This is because you will be motivated by real customer data and your product’s purpose.
Based on the customer’s data, problems, and needs, the product team will avoid building new features and products based on their personal assumptions or leadership’s assumptions. This will help save tremendous development and maintenance costs and help the team focus only on what matters to the customers.
Being a customer-centric company or product is not easy to achieve — it requires a lot of systematic steps and approaches. Below is a list of multiple practical steps to become more customer-centric.
Having a continuous communication flow with your customers is essential to being customer-centric. It’s critical to have a channel to ask your customers for continuous feedback and to hear more about their problems.
Being there for them and hearing them out can help you empathize with them further and build products based on their needs only.
As a product manager, you always have to map the customer journey and think internally through workshops or experiments to optimize it. Mapping the customer journey can help you put yourself in their shoes and reflect that on your product. Optimizing the journey can help your team reach the “AHA!” moment quicker and realize the value you provide in less time.
To build a complete customer-centric product, you have to test your product with your customer at every stage. This means testing in the design stage, testing stage, or even after you launch the product. This will help you collect precious feedback early on to reflect it on your product rapidly.
It will also make your customers feel that they are heard and that their opinions matter when it comes to the solution they use to solve their problems.
Being proactive is one of the top pillars required to be customer-centric. By being proactive, I mean that you should predict the customer needs and what your customers will go through before it happens. By being proactive, you limit yourself to current problems and experiences and go above and beyond by solving and addressing their future needs.
There are different KPIs and metrics to measure how customer-centric a company is. Those KPIs depend on the team. For example, the growth and marketing team might measure customer centricity through the NPS score, and the product team might measure it based on the churn rate.
Below are the top KPIs and metrics you can utilize to measure how customer-centric you are.
In general, tech companies lose around 10 percent of their users annually. Retaining your old customers can cost you 5x less than acquiring new ones. The lower the churn rate is, the most satisfied your customers are. This means your product addresses a good chunk of your customer’s problems in a way that resonates with them.
We can conclude that aiming to have a lower churn rate can make the company more customer-centric.
Net Promoter Score is one of the customer satisfaction measures. NPS will inform you on how willing your customers are to spread the word about your product.
The higher the NPS score, the more customers are willing to talk about your product. This means you have a vast base of satisfied customers and, thus, a customer-centric company/product.
By creating and customizing your own survey full of open-ended and closed-ended questions, you can get a sense of how satisfied your customers are. Customer feedback surveys can tell you if you really address their problems and solve them efficiently or if you are lacking in solving them.
This metric will show you how long it takes for your product to deliver value for your customer and to solve their problem. Optimizing the time to value and creating shorter paths can help you reach more satisfactory outcomes in less time and increase the customer satisfaction rate.
Let’s look at some of the world’s most customer-centric companies and how they did it.
Shopify is an excellent example. It aims to empower small businesses through different functionalities by allowing them to generate sales.
They involve their customers in every stage of product development to build the features they need and ensure that every feature solves an actual problem of the shop.
Their newly launched AI-driven customer support chat and site features allow their customers to answer their questions quickly, and their calls and feedback are analyzed and measured rapidly to improve future communication.
According to Forbes, these new features led to Samsung increasing their customer engagement by 19 percent, earning them the top highest customer satisfaction score among the other competitors.
Customer centricity is one of the keys to building highly successful products. Customer centricity helps the companies, specifically product teams, understand every detail and circumstance of their customers, allowing them only to build what solves the real problems of those customers.
Being customer-centric is what drives many global companies to the success they aim for.
Featured image source: IconScout
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