Being customer centric is good for company growth, and the reasons why have to do with social science. Psychologist and researcher Robert Cialdini, who studies the factors that influence our decision-making process, can help to explain why. His findings might surprise you.
In his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” Cialdini explains how human beings, instead of taking all pieces of relevant information into deciding when to say “yes” to something, actually rely on a few simple elements. He labels these principles of persuasion as “shortcuts.” They help us make fast, reliable decisions in an information-overloaded world.
Being customer centric actually forges relationships with prospects that trigger some of those shortcuts, which is why customer centricity better influences people to become customers (and stay that way). Here’s how.
1. Being customer centric establishes liking.
The principle of liking is pretty simple and probably won’t surprise you. We’re more likely to come to an agreement with a person (or group of people) we like. Research shows that groups of people who can empathize with each other are more apt to come to an agreement. According to Cialdini, there are a few factors that can influence who we like…
- We like people who are similar to us.
- We like people who pay us compliments.
- We like people who cooperate with us toward mutual goals.
Spoiler: Being customer-centric doesn’t generate liking because we’re complimenting our customers. Prospects like you because you help them find ways to reach their goals (instead of selling a product or solution they probably don’t need). You collaborate with them to create mutually beneficial agreements. By focusing on invigorating the businesses of your prospects, you build an honest relationship that helps them see the value of working with you.
2. Being customer centric invokes reciprocity.
When people receive a gift or service, they feel obliged to give back in a similar manner. This is reciprocity. Field studies and experimental studies show that reciprocity is a norm across various social activities and even among strangers.
Being customer centric means giving more to your customers than you expect to receive. Whether you’re checking on the status of a proposal, or reaching out because you saw a piece of content that reminded you of a prospect, you make sure the person receiving the message gets something from it.
This might mean sending over a new idea for their business, providing a helpful intro to someone you know or even sharing interesting research that could help them solve a problem. Because you freely produce value for your prospects, they’ll feel inclined to do something for you (like become a customer) in return.
3. Being customer centric creates scarcity.
The principle of scarcity explains that the less available something is, the more people want it. Studies show that the idea of scarcity does affect purchasing decisions. In terms of economics, demand for products or services increases when they are in short supply because they’re seen as more valuable.
Some businesses work with as many customers as possible to make as much money as possible. That’s a sales-centric approach. Being customer centric means you only work with businesses that have problems you’re able to solve. Your company offering is in short supply, because you must find a mutual fit between prospects who need your help and problems you’re able to solve. This creates scarcity and demonstrates the value of your company offering.
4. Being customer centric makes you an authority.
It’s our nature to trust advice from people we perceive as credible, reliable experts. This makes sense. Why would you trust anyone other than a doctor for medical advice? Examples of this concept in action can be seen across multiple industries, from consumer products to news outlets.
Being customer centric makes you an expert in your customers’ problems and pain points. But this doesn’t happen automatically. Because you spend so much time focused on helping your customers, you learn a lot about them. You understand who they are, what some of their objectives are, what the challenges to reaching those objectives are and how you can help them overcome those challenges.
Prospects can tell when you understand their problem. They then see you as an authority, and trust that you can match them with the most effective solution.
5. Being customer centric generates consensus.
As the principle of consensus explains, people often look to the actions and decisions of others to determine their own, especially if they are coming from a place of uncertainty. This also explains why social proof is so effective. Humans are tribal by nature and follow ideas from people they trust.
When companies focus on being customer centric, they create brand advocates. Part of the goal of customer centricity is to build a community in which you and all of your partners find success — a place where your customers can meet one another, share best practices and even solve each other’s problems. People then become so excited from engaging with your company that they tell others about it, therefore creating a consensus effect. Potential customers see that their peers and colleagues found success aligning with your organization and potentially feel like they can achieve the same.
These concepts explain why being customer centric is an effective growth model. Go here to learn more about Cialdini’s research, and take a look at the Torrent Customer LifeCycle to learn about our specific approach to customer centricity. Then, check out our free eBook: