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Product Information Management - The foundation for customer centricity

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Product Information Management - The foundation for customer centricity

Customer centricity means putting the customer at the center of everything you do. As the customer experience evolves, companies slowly shift towards a customer-centric, data-driven approach. From catchphrases such as “we put the customer first” to “the customer is always right,” it’s fast becoming a value businesses promote frequently. But with a growing number of options on where and how to buy, consumers are empowered to be more selective than ever. And more than half of buyers still believe that companies need to have a deeper understanding of their priorities and preferences.

According to Forrester, customer obsession is an increasing success factor for organizations around the globe. Customer-obsessed companies put the customer at the center of their leadership, strategy, and operations — leading to tangible business results. In a world where more than two-thirds of businesses compete mostly based on customer experience (CX), how can your business show that it puts customers first? You can start by developing an efficient customer-centric model to offer the products and services your customers want most in the way they want them.

Although businesses are leveraging breakthroughs in disruptive technologies to deliver personalized customer experiences, only 10% of customers say that brands meet their expectations for a “good experience.” So, there is a huge opportunity for organizations to fill that gap with meaningful consumer engagement tactics. When it comes to customer journeys, convenience, accurate product information, and a straightforward yet compelling buying experience are top priorities of busy consumers. Customers today prefer to engage directly with brands to quickly access valuable and accurate information – and that’s where personalized experiences through PIM come into the picture.

But first, let’s dive into what customer centricity means.

What is customer centricity and why is it important?

Customer centricity is a way of doing business that focuses on creating positive customer experiences through the full set of products and services that a company offers. A company with a customer-centric culture eliminates siloes in digital and in-store experiences to delight buyers. While customer centricity isn’t new, it’s increasingly used in the context of digital marketing transformation, customer experience management, and a customer-oriented business approach, among others. But being a customer-centric company takes more than keeping your customer in mind.

These companies solve problems preemptively, remove friction, and meet customer needs in innovative ways. In turn, customer-centric organizations are 60% more profitable compared to other companies. They often embrace new trends and future-ready technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics to deliver hyper-personalization. For today’s organizations, becoming more customer-centric is a core business requirement. When faced with data management issues, cost pressures, and rapidly shifting consumer behavior, developing a customer-centric culture can help businesses stay a step ahead of the competition.

What are the benefits of customer centricity?


Benefits of adopting a customer-centric strategy in your organization.

Businesses that take the necessary steps to understand their customers and then use that understanding to create a powerful organizational culture are reaping the rewards. Some of the advantages of customer centricity include:

  1. Higher customer satisfaction
    A customer-centric business strategy increases customer satisfaction. The purpose of customer centricity is to find out what customers like and dislike, and tailor products and services to better fulfill those needs and eliminate friction. High customer satisfaction makes customers more likely to come back in the future.

  2. Customer journey understanding
    The more you know about your target audience, the better you will understand the customer journey before, during, and after the sale. One of the key concepts of customer centricity is understanding why and how customers buy. This will help you act on your insights to boost conversions and provide better services and products.

  3. Cost savings
    You can dramatically reduce costs and achieve greater operational efficiency with the right customer-centric approach. By pursuing cost reduction with a customer focus, you can be more effective in customer acquisition and retention and implement the strategic initiatives best aligned with customer value.

  4. Growth opportunities
    In getting closer to your customers and market, you’ll take advantage of growth opportunities, such as unfulfilled customers. When you take a more customer-centric approach, you’ll identify new ways to sell or promote your services and new customer segments and niches you could target to raise revenues.

  5. Differentiated value
    For many companies, it can be costly to stand out as the most innovative and almost impossible to compete in terms of price. So, becoming a leader in understanding your customers can become your biggest asset. In this position, prospects are more likely to choose your products or services because they assume you are better equipped to solve their problems and anticipate their needs.

  6. Increased sales
    Customer centricity generates positive long-term results in terms of sales and profits. When businesses support customers along their journey, they help them become more informed, consider their options, and make the right decision. Customers will spread the word about how great your business is, and your online ratings and reviews will reflect it.

Examples of companies with a customer-centric strategy

The following examples of customer centricity show different ways organizations are putting their customers first.

  1. Starbucks
    Starbucks has been providing its customers with a personalized experience for decades. The coffee chain has the most popular app among major restaurants, which makes it easy for customers to order exactly what they want and pick it up with a minimal wait. The company has adapted its marketing strategy and operations to enhance efficiency. It provides many customization options regarding its products that are also available via the app. In addition, Starbucks offers membership discounts that encourage visitors to come again.


    Starbucks provides many customization options for its products, including via the app

  2. L’Oreal
    To help customers find the right shade of makeup, the company launched L'Oréal Perso, an AI-powered smart device that creates custom formulas for lipstick, foundation, and skincare. A customer uploads a picture to the Perso app which uses AI to identify skin conditions like dark spots or wrinkles and the device predicts the best products for each customer. The personalization level is optimized over time as the system gathers more data about the customer’s skin and personal preferences.


    L’Oreal helps customers find the right shade of makeup using L'Oréal Perso

  3. Zappos
    Zappos is a fitting example of a company that thrives by providing excellent customer service. They have quality, 24/7 support staff who are trained to resolve problems in a self-directed way, and they also give customers free shipping and a 365-day window to return items. Part of the way that Zappos takes its customer service to the next level is with person-level engagements. They encourage their representatives to get to know customers and create a strong personal connection.


    Zappos gives customers free shipping and 24/7 support staff

What are the key steps to creating a customer-centric strategy?

In a truly customer-centric culture, customer centricity starts at the top, with a clear purpose that permeates through every organizational level. Let's look at 4 key steps to developing an effective customer-centric strategy in your company.

  1. Discovery
    In this phase, your goal is to assess the current state of your customer relationships. You should:
    • Define and understand the external pressures that cause the need for change
    • Conduct stakeholder analyses to identify the current customer landscape
    • Identify your organization’s needs, priorities, and goals
    • Analyze the efficiency of your account structure and any prior metrics used to evaluate customer relationships
  2. Diagnostic
    In this step, you will analyze your findings and insights from the discovery phase. The goal is to identify the key drivers of customer experience and how your company performs on those drivers. At this stage, you will:
    • Identify the key drivers that improve customer relationships
    • Link the key drivers to customers’ key priorities and conducting a gap analysis
    • Map the customers’ journey
    • Share best practices based on insights and recommendations
    • Build or optimize the customer engagement strategy
  3. Measurement
    You will need a measurement strategy to tell if the transition to greater customer centricity is on track. This is where you should:
    • Centralize access to customer data and insights
    • Establish operational measures to track the efficiency of customer-facing business processes
    • Analyze perceptions of and attitudes toward your brand and business
    • Conduct customer surveys to understand what's working, which areas need to be optimized, and how customer satisfaction can be improved
  4. Sustainment
    In this phase, you must identify concrete steps to take to continuously improve your customer experience:
    • Create an action plan to transform the customer experience
    • Identify quick wins for ways to improve the customer relationship
    • Invest in customer service training
    • Implement an effective communication strategy across your organization
    • Communicate progress with customers to ensure they understand your organization’s efforts to improve the customer experience
    • Define systematic methods for monitoring and collecting feedback in all business departments

key-steps-to-creating-customer-centric-strategy-inblogThe key steps to creating a customer-centric strategy

Common challenges businesses face to achieve customer centricity

Being truly customer-focused requires the right mix of technology, advanced skills, and agile processes. In short, companies need to undergo a digital transformation and leverage modern tools to react to customers in real time. In a customer-centric organization, a company’s culture must be aligned with its customers’ needs. The reality is that there's still a huge gap between how companies perceive themselves and how customers see them. In fact, while 75% of organizations believe they are customer-centric, only 30% of consumers agree that to be the case.

So, what’s the issue? The main challenge businesses face is gaining truly relevant customer insights to keep pace with end-user expectations. According to Forrester, EU-wide companies agree that the greatest obstacle to achieving marketing goals is the poor understanding of customers’ needs, followed by accessibility to customer data. In addition, data silos are a significant barrier to becoming customer-centric. Many companies struggle to coordinate between siloed teams and systems and create a single view of the customer. The lack of technology to support data management is also limiting success. Even amongst those with the right technology in place, many do not have the in-house expertise to properly analyze and use the data to promote change.

How to overcome the barriers to customer centricity with PIM

As with any customer-related initiative, it all comes down to data. With the right data and a customer-centric mindset, you’re on track to delivering a great customer experience. Creating a central source for all the product-related assets and data that flow in and out of a business can seem daunting. But a Product Information Management (PIM) system makes it possible. PIM is designed to solve the issues that companies repeatedly encounter when it comes to product information management.

Contentserv’s Product Experience Cloud is a single, centralized repository for product data and digital assets, with cleansing rules, data deduplication, matching and merging, and translation capabilities. It’s an integrated PIM/DAM solution allowing brands to streamline data management processes and monitor activities, create personalized product content, automate product data syndication across multiple touchpoints, and seamlessly adapt to increasingly complex use cases.

PIM enables your business to go well beyond the basics of simple product data to differentiate itself from the competition. It makes a dramatic difference between barely meeting quality standards and exceeding expectations. As brands optimize their business operations, create a single source of truth for product information, enrich content, and distribute it across channels, they create positive customer experiences, resulting in:

  • Higher customer satisfaction and brand loyalty
  • Improved partner relationships
  • Shorter time-to-market
  • Increased sales
  • New business opportunities
  • Increased Return on Investment (ROI)

Customer centricity: From concept to implementation

The ball is in your court. The way you approach your customers directly impacts their perception of your business. Today’s consumers expect companies to go the extra mile to meet their needs. Siloed approaches for direct, indirect, and digital channels don’t work. You must understand who’s buying your product, where they are buying it, and through which channels. To do this, you need to analyze your existing customer buying behavior alongside broader market trends. This will enable you to find where competitive opportunities exist and identify untapped upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Reorienting an entire company to position the customer as its north star is no easy task. For a successful customer experience, active product information management is crucial. If you are serious about long-term growth, implementing a PIM system will help you create a sustainable, competitive advantage. With PIM in place, you can focus on creating a compelling and engaging buying experience and finally filling the gap between what your customers expect and what your business delivers.