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5 Barriers to Customer-Centricity (And How to Overcome Them)

Jenna Alburger

December 9, 2020

Today, more than ever, customers are in the driver’s seat. Research continues to show the impact that customer experience has on the bottom line. As a result, the concept of customer-centricity has never been more important.

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In fact, 81% of marketers expect to compete mostly (or completely) on the basis of customer experience. In an attempt to adapt, $641B will be spent on CX technologies in 2022. That's $130B more than 2019 investments. 

So what exactly does being customer-centric mean as we step into 2021? 

What is customer-centricity?

In short, customer-centricity is about putting the customer at the center of everything you do. Going into 2021, customer-centricity is more than just a good business practice -- it's key to survival.

The concept of customer centricity is transforming. Customer experience (CX) is the new competitive battlefront. And winning? Well, that requires a whole new level of dedication to customer-centric business models. 

Prioritizing customers' needs might sound simple on paper. But, in reality, it requires coordination, technology, and commitment. The entire organization must be in lock-step and ready to collaborate in new ways. 

Let's take a look at some of the most common barriers to customer centricity and how to overcome them. 

The barriers to customer centricity and solutions for change

Below are five of the most common barriers to customer-centricity.

1. Organizational silos prevent customer data sharing

Organizational silos are the most common challenge in achieving customer-centricity. 52% of businesses say that they have functional silos that prevent data sharing, and in turn, prevent them from being customer-centric.

While data silos have long been the enemy of all organizations and their marketing teams, businesses today face a new set of challenges. Today, the lines between marketing, sales, and customer support teams are less clear. 

Customer insights and data are no longer just the marketing teams' concern. Customer centricity requires these teams to share data between teams to get a 360-degree view of the customer experience. 

The solution: Consolidate data management systems

The first step is to consolidate data management systems. And, most businesses start with the systems that they use to manage customer communications.

Customer conversations are a trove of information. Understanding them at scale is fundamental to customer-centric business models. 

Brands are embracing customer communication platforms that aggregate conversations (and data). APIs and open-source frameworks mean that even companies with legacy systems can transform their customer communications. 

For example, at Hubtype, we provide businesses with the framework they need to aggregate communications and get important insights. Our conversational applications are used to acquire, engage, and support customers in a meaningful way. 

2. Employees are not empowered to focus on high-value experiences

Imagine if employees could provide personalized, meaningful support to customers at all times. That type of 1:1 service would receive an A+ in customer-centricity.

But, the reality is, customer service employees are often inundated with repetitive and mundane work. This prevents them from handling more complex issues and delivering memorable customer support. 

The solution: Embrace automation to free up human resources

At Hubtype, we find that most of our clients can automate 80% of their customer inquiries. We help brands combine proactive, self-serve, and human support capabilities to make their workflows more efficient. 

As a result, human agents have more time to focus on understanding customer needs and providing experiences that matter. They are able to take more time to help customers in deeper ways.

3. Technology isn’t flexible enough to make quick changes

Technology is fundamental to customer-centric business models. But, at the enterprise level, complex systems can make it difficult to make quick changes or launch pilot services.

To be successful, brands need to test customer experiences and apply their learnings quickly. Responding to customer challenges in a timely manner is key to achieving sustainable growth. 

The solution: Develop a case for modernization efforts 

The decision to modernize IT stems from a number of factors. But, one should be consistent: to deliver value. You can start by developing a substantial case for the modernization effort, showing expected ROI.

Specifically, if your systems were more agile, how would it benefit end customers? This could be through better experiences, cost reduction, or higher product quality.

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4. Products and services are not designed with data collection in mind

To deliver personalized, customer-centric experiences, brands need access to customer information. However, services and activities need to be designed to collect this information on the front-end. 

Sephora is a good example of a brand that does this well. Sephora’s app has many features to help customers select products that address their particular beauty concerns.

These features include product quizzes, virtual try-on, insider club points, and more. This content serves two purposes. First, it helps shoppers select the right products. But, more than that, Sephora is able to collect valuable data to enable future personalization.

The solution: Design the input to get the output

Brands need to do two things to create personalized digital experiences. First, they need to find innovative ways to collect customer data — and use that data to fuel relevant brand interactions.

Rather than trying to piece the puzzle together after products and services are launched, design them with the desired output in mind. 

5. Customers are not understood as individuals

Too often, customer research is confused with market research. But, they are not the same. Market research groups customers into large categories, whereas customer research aims to understand customers as individuals.

This lack of understanding is a roadblock to customer-centricity. Businesses run the risk of overlooking individual customers, niche audiences, or customers who require more to take the next step.

The solution: Detailed customer journey mapping 

Detailed customer journey mapping will help create a clear picture of your consumers. It helps you avoid the impulse to categorize your customers in general terms without paying attention to individual variations.

Conclusion

Customer centricity is central to growth in 2021. Getting it right will require brands to make technological and cultural changes. 

At Hubtype, we've helped brands all over the world to adopt customer-centric solutions. Our framework gives enterprises the flexibility they need to meet customers when and how they prefer.

More than that, our technology helps brands collect the insights they need to make meaningful decisions. It improves operational efficiency and breaks down barriers to customer-centric change. Connect with us to learn if Hubtype is a fit for your business.

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