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Why Your Startup Must Incorporate Customer Needs to Drive Growth

Justin McMillan

Justin McMillan

Chief Operating Officer at UpstartWorks
Justin McMillan is an expert in e-commerce growth initiatives and the Chief Operating Officer of UpstartWorks, a distribution company, empowering people and brands by providing expertise, speed to revenue, and scalable technology. Its suite of proprietary technologies is designed to drive results for its customers across their buyer journeys.
Justin McMillan

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Companies with above-average customer experience financially outperform their competitors in 73% of cases. But while being consumer-centric has its undeniable benefits, the journey is not necessarily an easy one.

First, you need to discover what your customers actually want. Then, this knowledge needs to be incorporated into every layer of your business, including product development, supply chains, engagement strategies, and customer service.

So, if consumer behavior is constantly changing, here’s why you should, too.


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Commitment to constant change is difficult, yet rewarding

Whether you’re just starting off or you’re already growing within your niche, it’s always key to ask yourself where your customer is headed and never lose sight of it.

Often, the willingness to change is really the willingness to understand the current needs of your audience, what they’re looking for, and what their demands are.

This is something that can change almost on a daily basis, so never remain comfortable with where you are now.

Jeff Bezos once said, “Start with the customer and work backward.”

It’s true that the benefits of this approach are numerous, but perhaps most importantly, consumer-centric brands are 60% more profitable than those that don’t focus on their customers.

Being consumer-focused is all about ease of use, convenience and straightforwardness. It means putting the user first and making the path to purchase or usage better than anybody else. Instead of saying, “This is better for me,” as the manufacturer or distributor, being consumer-centric means, “This might not be easy for me, but it’s what the consumer wants the most,” and that’s the path to success.

While the consumer-centric trend has been going strong for a long time, it has become even more urgent throughout the pandemic. Companies have accelerated the deployment of digital strategies centered around the consumer, especially in sectors that have been affected the most.

For example, grocery stores didn’t only have to go online, they had to adapt their app, incorporate easy payments, eliminate unnecessary forms, and find ways to offer as much transparency and as many guarantees as possible.

Processes like these are challenging for businesses, but those that take on the challenge are rewarded with greater customer loyalty, higher profits, and better employee engagement.



Defining the right KPIs

Being consumer-centric means going the extra mile, because it does take extra effort to understand your customers. The best way to start is to realize that you need granular insights. However, know that each company needs to identify its own way to gather feedback. There’s no blueprint: sales, purchases, and not even traffic always tell the whole story. For example, you might have strong sales but not realize that if you improve the mobile experience, they could grow even more.

An ongoing challenge that businesses face today is having “better data, not big data.” Collecting more data doesn’t necessarily lead to greater business intelligence, especially if you don’t know how to utilize it. Many companies end up collecting data for data’s sake or utilizing the wrong data to understand or improve the customer experience.

So, take your time to tap into all channels and sources, and figure out where to get feedback and what KPIs really make the difference for your specific business. Undoubtedly, this will require some experimentation and testing: If you change X, what happens?

Ask questions like these and connect with your customers in any way you can (be it reviews, comments, social media posts or direct feedback) to understand the impact of a newly introduced change.

This will help you to really understand which aspects of your business are driving customer interactions, and thus, your growth. If you can understand that feedback, then implementing changes based on that feedback is where you’ll really score big.

Today, 77% of consumers view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback, but only some half of all marketers adapt their strategies based on customer interactions and feedback.


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Being consumer-centric takes different forms

Now, you might ask, “Other than collecting customer feedback, should I also observe market trends and competitors?”

This is an important question, but there’s one thing to remember: the best sprinters know where the finish line is. They’re focused on their goal, but they don’t spend too much energy looking where the other sprinters are.

You don’t know the full story of your competitors, and they each operate under their own unique circumstances, as do you. So, while it’s important to know what you’re up against, make sure to stay in your own lane. Don’t get overly focused on what somebody else is doing. Focus on what your customer is looking for.

Key takeaways

As customers’ behavior changes rapidly, you could say that being consumer-centric means always pushing forward and never being complacent. So, every touchpoint in your customer journey, from a simple Google search to confirming the final purchase, is an opportunity for you to both collect data and use it to provide a better customer experience every single time.

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