customer centric

How To Be a Customer-Centric Company

It’s tempting to constantly focus on your company’s products and strategy. However, the best results often come from focusing outward on what your customers need and how they want to interact with you. 

In this piece, we’ll explore just what it means to be customer-centric and how to do it. 

What Does Customer-Centric Mean?

Being customer-centric means centering customers during every business decision you make. You want to anticipate their desires and that begins with consistent, active listening. 

All of your team should attempt to create a positive customer experience at every stage of the customer journey. 

The aim is to constantly understand and empathize with customers. You want to clock them on a holistic level and view every decision through the prism of the value it delivers to customers. 

Why it’s important

The goal of being a customer-centric company is to build a loyal customer base leading to repeat business and increased profits. After all, unhappy customers don’t come back. 

Companies like Trader Joe’s, Sephora, and Amazon have all proven the benefits of a customer-centric culture. Doing it right creates positive, personalized experiences for customers which increases satisfaction and sales. 

Plus, employee satisfaction goes up too. Top talent wants to work somewhere that delights customers. 


The stats back up why centering customers is a good idea:

Customer-centric brands report profits that are 60% higher than those that fail to focus on customer experience.

Companies reporting a “very mature” level of customer-centricity experienced 2.5X revenue growth compared with those reporting their company was “very immature.”

According to PwC, nearly one in three customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. PwC also says companies that invest in and deliver superior experiences to both consumers and employees are able to charge a premium of as much as 16% for products and services.

Building a Customer-Centric Culture


“Sounds great. But how do I do it?” Here are some key ways to implement a customer-centric culture at your company:

Core values

You need to get everyone on board, starting with leadership: Active, exec-level support is essential to customer-centricity. There may be tension between what shareholders want and a genuine commitment to serving customers so leaders must be able to manage that tension.

After that, you want marketing, sales, service, support, finance, and everyone else to follow. Every employee, from the CEO to a support rep, should obsess over customer satisfaction. 

Employee experience and engagement

Being customer-centric starts with being employee-centric. Annette Franz, a customer experience expert, says if a company puts customers first, “employees must be more first.” 

When employees feel fulfilled with their jobs, they do a better job of engaging with customers. 

Put employees into situations where they can learn from and partner with customers. Understand the needs and pain points of employees. And give them the tools and training they need to help customers.

Whenever possible, directly connect employees and customers (even if they don’t “do customer service”). Example: Adobe uses listening stations where employees can hear from customers directly and learn about their successes and failures. 

The goal is to shorten the distance between employees and customers. The more your team hears actual customer anecdotes (as opposed to just data), the better.

And remember: You’re unlikely to have a happy customer on one end of a conversation if you have a disengaged employee on the other end. Empower your employees and they’ll do the same for customers.

Cross-functional teams

Make sure information about customers is shared freely across departments and not just within Marketing and Sales. You want employees across your company to use these insights.

Also, build cross-functional teams that include different perspectives and roles. You want to avoid silos and make sure insights from one department are understood by the rest of the company. 

The more you get transparency across your company, the more you’ll achieve unity. 

Get members of Support, Onboarding, Billing, Sales, and Customer Success to meet regularly to discuss customer issues. Communicate across silos so everyone feels invested and has context on the customer experience – even if they’re not interacting with customers directly.

Understanding The Customer

So what are the best ways to truly connect with customers? There are many tools and tactics you can use…

Anticipate customer needs

To build a customer-centric culture, you have to understand what matters most to them. Start by embracing “outside in” thinking. 

Shep Hyken, author and customer service expert, writes, “Outside in thinking is bringing the customer’s voice into the decisions we make. Inside out is when we think we know what’s best for our customers, and that’s what we’re going to do. It’s not that every decision you make has to be favorable for the customer, but every decision you make should take the customer into consideration.”

You can define value from the customer’s perspective with a Customer Value Proposition (CVP). Your CVP is what you promise to customers. It is also how you differentiate your company from competitors. The key is to see the world through your customers’ eyes.

Collect customer feedback

In order to anticipate customer needs, you need to be aggressive about soliciting feedback. You want to really listen and use that information too. If the same issue keeps popping up, you’ll know it’s a legitimate pain point. 

  • Respond proactively to customer feedback. 
  • Run customer satisfaction surveys. 
  • Seek out negative comments by interacting with people who return items or cancel a service. 

The more data you get from customers, the more you’ll know how to please them moving forward.

Use the right customer service tools

Seek a sweet spot in your customer service tools. You want them to be advanced enough to handle a large flow of interactions, but simple enough that employees can easily implement and use them. 

The more your tools are agile, the more your team can react and respond in real-time. 

A great place to start: help desk software. A good help desk includes:

  • Shared inbox for team collaboration
  • Management and organization for customer conversations
  • Automation capabilities
  • Reports on key metrics

While we’re biased, we suggest checking out Groove, an all-in-one customer support help desk built with growing businesses in mind. 

The interface is easy to grasp and no prior customer service experience is required. Use it and anyone on your team can resolve customer issues and track feedback with ease.

Stages For Customer Engagement


There are different stages of customer engagement and each requires a different approach. Here are some key strategies you can use throughout this journey to become more customer-centric


Personalization takes being customer-centric to the next level. It means tailoring products and services to the specific needs of customers so they feel valued and understood. 

A good example might be a product recommendation engine that uses data to suggest products a customer will love based on previous purchases, browsing history, and demographics.

Delivering personalized customer service can make a huge difference too. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Use names (both yours and your customer’s)
  • Offer photos of employee faces (increases conversion rates and humanizes your business)
  • Know a customer’s history with your company (at Groove, we accomplish this by displaying the customer’s history in our help desk’s sidebar next to each ticket)
  • Track important attributes of customers outside your business relationship with them (i.e. send a birthday greeting or anniversary note) 

This approach is a great way to stand out. According to McKinsey, 71% of customers expect businesses to provide personalized experiences and 76% feel frustrated when this expectation goes unmet.

Omnichannel service and support

Omnichannel customer service is assistance and advice for customers across a seamless network. Done right and it lets you provide great experiences for customers regardless of the communication channel.

Customer support software built around an easy-to-use shared inbox (like the one provided by Groove) can help your team deliver exceptional omnichannel service. 

Social media and relationship building

Social media can be a key component in interacting with customers. The most important step is to triage problems and heal pain points. Customers typically expect a business to respond within 24 hours on social media so you’ll want a tool like Groove to manage your inbox without missing a message.

As for your social media presence, some tips:

  • Talk in a human voice 
  • Have a brand personality
  • Provide a consistent, integrated customer experience

Customer-Centric Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing are two of the key touchpoints when it comes to focusing on customers… 

Align sales with customer needs

Customer-centric selling starts with understanding their expectations. 

Offer personalized experiences and give timely responses. Know if your customers want to engage with salespeople or prefer to research on their own. Give customers personal attention, educate them, respond quickly, keep things simple, and differentiate your offerings from the competition.

Move past the notion that you can only either win or lose a customer. If your product isn’t the right fit for them, it’s better to let them find one that’s right. Sometimes losing an immediate sale can be the best way to build a long-term relationship. 

Strive to understand the buyer’s journey and learn how customers typically make their purchasing decisions. That way, you’ll know their needs and pain points. 

The typical buyer’s journey can be broken down into three main stages. 

  • In the awareness stage, customers want educational content that highlights possible solutions. 
  • In the consideration stage, customers want detailed information about products and want to try out options. 
  • The decision stage is the final step and can be helped along by discounts or special offers.

Also, use tools that support your sales team and customer needs. The right tech can automate repetitive tasks and streamline how you collect insights from existing customers.

Content marketing and customer education

Customer-centric marketing is also about prioritizing customers’ needs with content that educates and entertains them. You want to teach them something new, show them how your product(s) can improve their lives, and/or captivate them so they keep coming back. 

This can take different forms. Examples: You can create a community for customers to interact with each other, offer educational materials to help them gain knowledge, or put on conferences that let them pick up new skills.

How do you find out what your customers want? 

Interview them, send out surveys, monitor social media, use Google alerts to find out what’s being said about your company, collect data via a tool like Groove that shows you customer metrics, and use support emails and calls as a resource. 

Find customer pain points and solve them and you’ll often gain a lifetime customer.

Targeted marketing and segmentation

Create targeted marketing that puts the customer first. Instead of asking what’s best for you, ask, “What do my customers want to see and which platforms do they want to see it on?” 

You can’t expect a one-size-fits-all approach to work though. That’s why audience segmentation (i.e. dividing customers into distinct groups based on specific criteria) is key. 

Brett Hansen, CGO of Semarchy, a data software company, writes, “By segmenting the market, brands can identify and understand groups of customers who share common characteristics and then appeal to each group with specific, relevant incentives like custom products and special offers that cater to the wants and needs of each ‘segmented’ group. Each consumer group may vary in their interests, expectations and demands, making it necessary to tactfully craft your marketing approach to match the needs of each target group.”

The result: Targeted marketing that reaches customers where, when, and how they want. Plus, doing this lets you understand your different types of customers and tailor your actions to them. With this approach, customers are inherently centered because you’re listening to them and adapting messaging to them. And that leads to better conversion rates

And don’t be afraid to go beyond generic data, like age, gender, profession, etc. You want to know their habits, interests, social media platforms, experiences, behavior, issues, and more. The more you know, the deeper the potential connection.

Metrics and measurement

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” And that means you need to constantly strive to improve your data – and then make it available to everyone on your team. You want people throughout the company to be able to consume, interpret, and use it effectively. 

Let’s explore ways your team can use data to be more customer-centric…

KPI for CX

Customer-centric companies use measurable metrics related to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. A good key performance indicator (KPI) is “specific, measurable and impactful to overall business goals.” It all depends on your business, of course. A retail store might care more about average cart size while a mobile app focuses more on number of downloads.

That said, some important metrics to consider:

  • CSAT (customer satisfaction score) is a metric that indicates how satisfied customers are with a company’s products. Customer feedback winds up expressed as a percentage with 100% being the highest score. Learn how Groove works with satisfaction surveys. 
  • Customer service response time is the amount of time it takes for your customer support staff to respond to a customer’s question.
  • Churn rate is the percentage of customers that stop doing business with your company over a designated period of time.

Also, ask questions about the customer experience at various points of their journey. Make sure you actually use all this data too. Data is pointless if you don’t actually do something with it. And if customers feel like they’re not being heard, that can create other headaches (and prevent them from speaking up in the future).

Want more info on KPIs: Check out 10 Customer Service KPI Metrics You Should Be Measuring (And How to Improve Them).


Net promoter score (NPS) is a market research metric based on a question asking respondents to rate the likelihood that they’ll recommend a company, product, or a service to a friend or colleague. 

Tracking this score over time can reveal important trends. NPS helps you identify your evangelists and detractors. You can then leverage this data to build customer loyalty. Plus, NPS can help ensure relevant feedback reaches customer-facing employees quickly.

For example, Adidas, the sportswear brand, tracks customer experience using NPS and aligns senior executives (and the rest of the team) around consumer priorities. It uses NPS to identify pressing issues, discover the business impact of those issues, and spot easy fixes. The company even ties employee bonuses to the brand’s NPS.

Similarly, Apple regularly employs NPS surveys to find dissatisfied customers. It then contacts them to learn about their problems and how to improve their experience. This approach yielded a revenue increase of over $25 million in one year.

Here’s a brief walkthrough from Groove on how to interpret NPS in the real world.

LTV and retention

Lifetime Value (LTV) measures the total amount of money a customer has spent (or is expected to spend) on your products throughout their lifespan as a customer. Studying this metric assists with long-term planning and your company’s overall strategy.

Many feel customer lifetime value (LTV) is the single most important metric to understand the long-term health and profitability of your business. A great way to improve your LTV is with customer-centric messaging that focuses on customer needs rather than your company’s short-term business goals. 

Also helpful: Identify and track your customers during all your communications in order to build up your long-term relationship with them.


Being a customer-centric company isn’t complicated: You just need to get obsessed with your customers. Get out of the mindset of squeezing folks for a quick buck and instead seek to cultivate lifelong relationships with them. That’s the best way to build brand loyalty and increase customer satisfaction.

Focus on taking care of the people buying your products (and the people on your team that build and support those products). When you do that, results will follow.
And remember, the right help desk software can be an essential ingredient to building your customer-centric culture. Groove includes everything you need to track metrics, set goals, and satisfy customers in the long run.
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