>Are you customer centric? Is customer centric different than customer service? Those are great questions to ask your leaders, your team and most importantly your customers.

Yes, they are different. When most of us think about customer service, we think of customer satisfaction. Asking ourselves “are we doing and delivering what the customer asks of us?” Customer centric is all about taking service to another level, when we are not only delivering what the customer asks, we are delivering what the customer wants, needs and determines has real value.

If your only goal is for your customers to have a satisfying experience and give you a favorable rating, than customer service is good enough. But if what you truly want is the type of customer who returns to you to repurchase your products and services, and becomes a true advocate, one that delights in telling your story and signing your praises, then what you want is to create a customer centric culture.

What is the difference? Customer service – in today’s world – is simplying creating an experience in which the customer is happy with their current purchase. Studies show that “satisfied” customers do not routinely return for repeat purchases and do not routinely refer you to family and friends. In other words customer service does not equal customer loyalty.

Customer centric cultures is about creating a  customer experience that is focused on customer value and a memorable experience. One in which the customer feels listened to, heard, cared for and an experience the customer can connect with. This type of culture creates desire to repurchase and excitement about recommending. Ultimately this type of culture creates customer loyalty and business growth.

Customer expectations these days are higher than ever and going up every single day. With global competition, increased development in technology, and customers in complete control of the buying cycle, you have to deliver beyond expectations if you hope to win or keep the business.

So how do you create a customer centric culture:
1 – Establish a clear vision that focuses on customer value. Keep it simple. Make sure everyone on the team understands it, can relate to, and knows how they can use their talents to support it.
2 – Be a role model – employees will treat customers how you treat customers. Remember that the next time a customer gets on your nerves, asks a few too many questions, or is having a bad day. Understand your team is watching.
3 – Hire right – hire for attitude, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. It is far more difficult to train the soft skills. Hire right and you are more than half way there.
4 – Invest in your team – if you want your customers to perceive value from their experience with your business, then understand your employees are your business. If your employees feel valued, cared about, and feel their job is an amazing experience than that is the culture they will relay to your customers. Help them reach their goals, achieve their values and they will do the same for your customers.
5 – Talk and train – make the customer front and center – talk about the customer everday – start the day with the simple question “What is one thing we can do today to improve the customer experience,” and end the day with the best customer experience – end on a positive note. Train your employees on your service standards and help them grow in their ability to deliver a “wow” experience to your customers.
6 – Open culture – build a culture of trust and communication – empower your people to handle customer complaints with the freedom to make a decision. Weekly discuss what went well – what was a challenge – so people learn from each other and feel like they are contributing to the best ways to handle and care for customers.

A customer centric culture is the greatest competitive edge you can have in this economy. If you want to differentiate yourself, if you want to get noticed and stand out, if you want customer loyalty to drive bottom line results than develop a customer centric culture!