customer-centric in product management
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Many companies claim to be customer-centric, especially in recent years, but in fact, they may be spending all of their resources on analyzing exclusively internal data trying to get some relevant consumer insights. The business world is full of buzzwords that are thrown around lightly and can be misleading, giving a false image of a company, and hiding a company’s true practice.

The term “customer-centric,” therefore, deserves to be clarified so that we can fulfill our goals of delivering to our customers more of what they are actually looking for.

Coined by Lester Wunderman in the 1960s, the term “customer-centric” emerged during a period in which advertising began to move beyond mass media (e.g. TV, Radio) to more individual and personalized channels, such as direct marketing. Wunderman may have been inspired by Peter Druker, who defended, years before that, that “it is the customer who determines what a company is, what it produces, and even if it will prosper or not ”.

To have the knowledge and understanding of consumer needs is essential for a company is an integral part of the most basic business plan templates, and is perhaps why so many companies may be confident that they have a customer-centric product management approach. The metrics, however, will speak differently of a company’s vision and practice, when all that is being measured are numbers such as revenue, churn, NPS, and other KPIs which may reflect company performance, but shed no light on what exactly the customer has in mind.

Yes, metrics such as revenue and churn are important, or even essential. They help to measure the health of the company and answer questions on, growth, efficiency, and from a certain perspective, even customer satisfaction. However, they fail to capture the “why” of each customer, and with that, they fail to reveal the consumer’s intent when interacting with the company (i.e. what needs they are looking to satisfy?)

Remember: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”

Peter Drucker

If a company cannot collect and manage its user feedback in a well-organized manner to transform that into consumer insights, within a data-based environment, the real-world focus of that company on its customer has clearly been left aside. To revert a company’s lacking approach and evolve into becoming truly customer-centric, a great starting point is to define clear indicators to measure company performance with an emphasis on the expectations of your consumer, or in other words, define your CPIs.

How to define a CPI?

A CPI (Customer Performance Indicator) is similar to a KPI but established from the perspective of your customer. This approach allows you to measure in detail your performance concerning the needs of the customers themselves. It is a metric of value to the customer, or that reflects customer values, and not necessarily company values. The NPS (Net Promoter Score), for example, is not a CPI because it is not something the customer cares about, although it helps to indicate whether he is satisfied or not. Also, it does not help you understand the “why” behind customer satisfaction and does not let you know exactly where to act to improve on this metric (i.e. it is not actionable). The same goes for revenue or market share.

The CPIs being focused on the user fit extremely well into the universe of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support, but can also be used in areas that are indirectly related to the consumer, such as Finance and Operations.
An example of a very common CPI is the “Time to Solve” (a user problem). It is not the same as response time, as it is not just the contact or response that the customer seeks, it is the time to resolve the entire issue that they had – a bug or an experience issue, for instance.

When defining and managing CPIs, it is important to gather all relevant information and understand what the consumer wants or expects from a company or product, or what is the job to be done for them?. The expectations of those who buy a computer for work can be vastly different from that of those who buy the same computer to play video games, among countless examples. To understand what a consumer expects from a company and its products, a company must go beyond simple market research and focus groups, which are expensive, time-consuming, and essentially biased solutions.

A company must listen to its consumer, gather information from within their context of experience, and understand, from a spontaneous source, what exactly frustrated them throughout their consumption journey, be it related to buying, to using the product for the first time, to interact with support, or even to performance of the product itself. A tip: Q&As, online reviews, and discussion forums are great sources for this.

Using CPIs to improve your KPIs

An excellent advantage gained from starting to look at your company’s CPIs is that, invariably, they will bring qualitative answers to several questions that you would regularly ask yourself and your team regarding your KPIs when trying to improve them.

The relationship is straightforward: if a customer has a quick answer to a question, they are likely to recommend your service. If the shopping experience was pleasant, they will return to your store and buy it again. If the product they purchased met a specific need, they will advise it to someone with a similar need, and so on.

In terms of managing your team to be customer-centric, it will be much easier to motivate and direct the team if they know exactly where they need to act. This clarity of objectives will prevent a lack of focus and unnecessary investment of energy and money in actions that will not generate the expected impact on the KPIs. By acting without focus, without knowing the source of a problem, many more problems can be created, and a company may even fall into irreversible losses for not having paid attention to the consumer in the first place.

In conclusion, if you really want your company to become customer-centric, you must start by defining the metrics that are important to your consumer first, and then establish a clear process on how to measure them and relate them to the other metrics that are important to you. By doing this, you will reach your goals with higher efficiency and stronger long-term growth. But how – and from where – can you start?

We can help you create and manage your CPIs

Many tools in the market may help you, in different ways, to collect data from the different sources where consumers are sharing their opinions and put that data together. Most of these tools, however, are working only to partially collect the available data and give you mostly superficial insights regarding your customers and their satisfaction with your company and products.

If you want to go deeper into consumer insights, you will need a tool that gives you insights out of the box, instead of giving you only more of the simple and raw data. More than that, you’ll want a tool that can help you manage and measure your process. That is why at Birdie we work hard to empower companies by delivering real, actionable, ready-to-use data and highly valuable insights into their customers and the many interactions they may have with the company and its products.

Powered by an Artificial Intelligence model, trained to understand consumers specifically, Birdie can collect, analyze, and give you ready-to-use consumer insights, so that you can improve your products and services based on real-time customer feedback and their intentions and expectations.

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