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Let's face it: Everyone is doing more with less. Whether that's because of layoffs, reduced budgets, or just the general impact of today's economic uncertainty, teams are scrambling to keep the customer experience bar high while taking on more responsibilities.

And when things get busy, one of the first things that teams let slip is the focus on the customer.

When you are up against a deadline for content or a campaign, customer-centricity is easy to bypass. Because of that, the burden often falls on Customer Service to carry the torch, and many claim that Customer Service is the heart of customer-centricity.

To that I say, "Wrong!"

When we think about customer service and where it falls in the customer journey, more often than not it's at the end of the road. People pick up the phone to talk to an agent or to engage with a chatbot when they have exhausted other options for getting their questions answered or issues resolved.

And when they finally reach out to a customer service rep, typically they are at a point of peak annoyance or frustration, having unsuccessfully tried on their own to get a question answered, maybe after having had to deal with an automated voice on the phone that reads a list of options none of which are exactly what they need...

It often seems that what passes for customer service can actually detract from a brand's customer-centricity.

Still, even great customer service is just one component of being customer-centric—and it's not enough.

That is where content comes in.

Content is the key to not only demonstrating your brand's customer-centricity but also reinforcing the promise you make to your customers about caring about their wants and needs and delivering products and services that benefit them.

Content helps prove that you value your customers and that you take your mission of delivering what they want and need seriously.

Content helps customers self-serve and get answers or solve challenges on their own.

Content can also help build emotional connections between brands and their customers, which helps build a base of loyal fans.

Winning brands are the ones that prioritize their customers and treat them with respect through great service, thoughtful and relevant content, utility, and most important, building relationships beyond a transaction.

The question now is, how do you become (or get back to being) a winning brand by putting content at the heart of your customer-centric mindset?

Let's look at three things that will help you become a lean, mean, customer-focused, content-driven machine.

1. Get to your 360

When you put customers at the core of what you do, you are making a commitment to knowing who they are, what they care about, and what information/products/services they need to solve a challenge they are facing so you can have relevant content created and at the ready.

Collecting their data should be done with the best of intentions and it should demonstrate a value exchange. By getting to know your customer, collecting their data, and creating a 360-degree-view of your audience, you are committing to using that data wisely to deliver relevance and help people get to what they need as quickly as possible.

Don't collect more data than you need, and use what you do collect to create content and experiences that are what your customers want—not what is mandated by those out of touch with your target customer.

2. Keep your content human

ChatGPT is all the rage these days because of its ability to churn out content in the blink of an eye. Although there is certainly more to explore on the topic of AI in content, as with most things in life there are pros and cons. Yes, ChatGPT can create content fast, but it can't replicate the human touch of empathy and contextual awareness that is key to building an emotional connection between brand and consumer.

Customers who have an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value than those who don't, according to a Motista study. Whereas ChatGPT might be good for content efficiencies, keeping your content human and building emotional relationships is good for business.

3. Focus on customers over competitors

We've all seen the stats and quotes that proclaim brands are competing primarily on customer experience these days. Brands have put the customer on the back burner to focus on the customer experience being delivered—not in the eyes of customers themselves, but in comparison to their brand's competitors.

It is necessary to see how other companies are moving the needle, but if you are going to measure yourself against competitors you need to implement a constant gut check: "Would our customers like that? Is that what our customers want to hear from us?" And then use the answers to inform your content strategy.

You should absolutely do some competitive research and explore how others in your industry are delivering content and what they are saying, but don't let that approach lead your strategy. Let it be one of many inputs that shapes the ideal experience for your customers and target audiences.

You don't want to copy your competition; you want to stand out. Prioritizing your customers and reflecting their needs in the content you deliver will help you do that.

* * *

I hope the points in this article will help you refocus your team on putting content at the heart of your customer-centric approach to business.

Your customers are always there to provide feedback—whether directly through research or indirectly through tracked metrics. It is your responsibility to listen to what they are saying and respond accordingly with the right content.

More Resources on Content and Customer-Centricity

How to Get Sales Prospects to Care About Your Marketing Content

How to Crowdsource Your Content Creation Ideas

Content, Customer-Centricity, and the Power of Data: Acxiom's Tim Suther on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

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Why Content, Not Customer Service, Is the Heart of Customer-Centricity

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image of Jill Roberson

Jill Roberson is the VP of digital marketing at Velir, a data-driven digital marketing agency.

LinkedIn: Jill Grozalsky Roberson

Twitter: @Jgrozalsky