You'd see in most articles the words "customer-centric" and "customer-focused" used interchangeably. They may seem like the same thing but... both have different approaches.
Customer-focused This is when you design products and services that are to be sold to the customer and not thinking exactly how your product attends to their pain point or to put it in another way, you create a product and then look for people to buy it. Take the stiletto heels for instance, it has a sleek look. Pointed heels give ladies the extra height boost and would help them achieve the perfect "cat-walk" but little or no consideration to what that "extra height" might do to the lady's calf, lower back, and knee cap later on in life especially when worn for an extended period of time? Not all ladies like the stiletto.
Compare this to...
Customer-centric This is when you begin to think like the customer and design products and services that would address a particular need, give the customer a unique experience and make the customer's life easier. Let's use the stiletto heels example again. This time, an extra platform is included to create a balance for the lady's gait and posture. The inner sole is softly padded to take off the pressure on her knee cap and calf.
Let's take this a little further...
You are a hair salon owner, be it a hair barbing salon or hairdressing salon, and it's a hot Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Every customer who walks in to patronize your business gets a cold bottle of water to rehydrate after being under the sun. You don't sell it to them, it is part of your customer service delivery. You have made this your special weekend treat because that is when the majority of your customers have the time to indulge in a little self-care and grooming.
You do this for the first weekend. They think it's just a one-off. You sustain this for the next four weekends, they see a pattern. Now, this is for your regular customers. Imagine that while you're doing this, a random person visits your salon for the first time and experiences this. The person might even say to you "Oh, you just read my mind. As if you knew I was thirsty". What do you think would be running through that customer's mind?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Why Your Business Should be Customer-Centric
Building and fostering a customer-centric culture in your business aids you and your employees' perception and treatment of your customers. It guides your actions and behaviour towards your business and the customers, in particular.
Empathy and Communication are fast becoming premium qualities businesses should have especially in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Customers will continue to demand a better customer experience each time they make a contact with the business. In a bid to ensure the customer has an amazing experience with your business, you need to identify and understand the emotional needs of your customer as it relates to your business. Once you can identify and understand it, responding effectively and appropriately becomes easier. This is EMPATHY!
Moments when there are hiccups in delivering the value promise, it is vital that empathy is shown to the customer and the channels of communication are always open.
It is important to create a system where your customer experience strategies can be measured. The recommended method is to link your employee culture with your customer outcomes. This will give you an insight of what needs to be sustained and what needs to be changed or improved.