A couple of decades ago, most businesses ran on a transactional model, based on quick sales and threadbare support systems. These models were often necessarily opaque and inaccessible, preferring to keep consumers at a healthy distance. And while they worked in the short-term, they flagged in long-term customer retention – especially with modernizing consumers who wanted a more personalized, empowering touch.
Enter the consumer-centric model, which puts people first. A consumer-centric platform respects customer desires, needs and frustrations. It actively works to educate, empower, listen to, and anticipate customers, often at the expense of a quick buck.
This article attempts to define consumer-centric platforms by uncovering the lid and looking at the anatomy of online platforms. If you run a business with an online presence that strives to become more consumer-centric, take note of the features and examples below.
The Basics: Customer Support, Accessibility and UX
At its most basic, a consumer-centric platform needs to be supportive, accessible and human-focused. It should feature a robust system of customer support, defined less by reacting to customer frustrations and more by guidance, education and accommodation. Human support is ideal, but AI-powered chatbots can fill in the gaps, especially for consumers in different time zones.
From a technical standpoint, a consumer-centric platform should feature an intuitive UX/UI (user experience/user interface) that seamlessly guides the customer journey. That means cutting out the complicated form fields and pushy pop-ups; it also means accommodating various abilities (through speech recognition, etc.) and payment methods.
Consumer Empowerment: Transparency, Accountability and Resource-Based Education
At a higher level, a consumer-centric platform should strive for transparency, accountability and empowerment. It should present consumers with all their options, and provide educational resources that empower them to make smart decisions. Here, let’s rip an example from recent headlines.
Recently, Nobul – a real estate digital marketplace practically synonymous with consumer centrism – received the Golden Stevie Award for “ongoing executive corporate achievements.” The company provides real estate consumers with actionable resources and a transparent overview of their real estate agent options.
Accepting his win, Nobul CEO and founder Regan McGee shared that, “every award Nobul receives validates our vision and inspires our team to continue providing a platform that brings radical transparency and empowerment to both the buyer and seller sides of the consumer experience in real estate.”
Feedback Loops: Feedback, Analysis and Self-Improvement
Beyond support, usability and transparency, a consumer-centric enterprise needs to be tuned in to what consumers are saying. It should routinely solicit feedback through surveys, opinion polls, non-traditional data and customer interaction sentiment analysis.
But it can’t sit idly on these insights. A consumer-centric platform should be in a constant state of self-improvement, analyzing and leveraging these insights to tweak fundamental elements of the business: its support strategies, product/service offerings, web design, marketing, etc. A great example here is Hyatt’s online hospitality platform, which is a masterclass in how to build a brand around consumer input.
Consumer centrism is more than just a nouveau buzzword in business; it’s a fundamental rethinking of how organizations structure their relationships with customers. And these three features demonstrate what makes consumer-centrism work in an online platform.