‘Customer Centricity’: If you’re a marketing professional you’ll have heard the term. In fact, in May I attended the B2B Marketing Leaders APAC conference and ‘customer centricity’ was a term used in most of the presentations that took place over three days. A common assertion was that customer centricity sat at the centre of any successful organisation’s values and service delivery.
From a marketing standpoint, to be customer centric means to prioritise a customer’s specific needs, to observe customers with objectivity to understand these needs, and to develop product and service offerings to deliver on these needs. This is nothing new.
However, I’d like to take this broad understanding one step further and challenge that true customer centricity, especially from a consulting point of view, involves the act of saying an often-dreaded word: No.
When to say no to a client
If you’ve just wrinkled your nose, I can understand why. Many traditional sales theories dictate that excellent customer service is about accommodating a customer’s every want and need seamlessly, and to say no to a customer’s requests may be going against everything you’ve ever been taught. But if to be customer centric is to truly prioritise a customer’s needs, then it’s not about saying ‘yes’ to every request. It’s about saying yes to those requests you know you can deliver upon with excellence, and honestly saying no when you know deep down there’s someone better to do the job.
This involves an honesty about your own products and services and where the parameters of those lie. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? To your best ability, answer these questions with objectivity and honesty, and you’ll start to see the gaps where you should be saying ‘no’. Turning customers away can also be appropriate when you know you don’t have the resources to deliver within a certain timeframe, or when you know a customer’s expectations simply can’t be met with your capabilities, even if they don’t know that themselves yet.
Don’t risk a dissatisfied customer
This has been a struggle for us at Lush. We’ve come from a typical small-business culture, where every opportunity was taken in fear of the scarcity that may lie around the corner. Now, as we grow beyond the small start-up we once were, we must consciously remind ourselves that it’s okay to decline. We strive to be truly customer centric, and beyond the benefits to customers, we recognise in many cases it’s beneficial to our business to deny customers.
It only takes a quick glance at any worthwhile word-of-mouth research to realise the loss of one customer’s business is nothing compared to the butterfly-effect loss of a dissatisfied customer. What’s more, when you say ‘no’ to work you can’t deliver on, you make room to work harder on what you know you’re excellent at, you’ll have nothing but positive reviews online and offline, and your portfolio will be impeccable.
Most of all, you’ll be able to say confidently, and with evidence, that you’re truly customer centric. A business who claims to be customer centric, yet takes a job based on the money to be made rather than the satisfaction to be created, is nothing of the sort.
If you’d like to work with a content agency that is not afraid to say ‘no’ to you, why not contact Lush? We use our best talents in content strategy and creation to help businesses of all shapes and sizes. Like what you’ve read? Sign up to the Lush newsletter for fortnightly advice to help you market your business better, tips from our video production gurus, and a podcast or two from our favourite podcasting team, Brand Newsroom. In the meantime, you might enjoy these:
Brand Newsroom: Lessons from the world’s best content marketing projects [podcast with show notes]