“Customer centricity is a culture of putting the customer at the centre of everything you do” – Brian Solis
It seems like everyone knows about and loves talking about the importance of making customer centricity part of the company’s core culture. The success of every business operating in today’s aggressive marketplace depends on customer remaining loyal, providing repeat business, and referring the company to others. It would be obvious then that customer centricity would mean running the business operations keeping the viewpoint of customer’s in mind. This means that despite years of experience and the most trained professionals, a company would still be able to take decisions based on customer expectations, and viewing each decision as though they were the customer. Companies today, claim to have customer centricity at the core of what they do, but most often this claim is simply lip service and ‘for effect’, since most of their operational decisions are internally focused.
We know that today businesses face even more and fiercer challenges, which leads them to work towards improving their products and service by continually innovating at a fast pace, adopting the latest technologies, and doing their best to outwit their competitors. The aim of getting and staying ahead becomes the core driving force behind all the strategies and decisions a company makes. Obsessing over product development means that a company loses focus on everything else, and this is not a sustainable strategy since competitors can easily overcome products in the market through new technology and strategies, leading customers to them. Making customer centricity the core of business would be a better, robust, and more durable strategy since it allows companies to standout through the relationships with customers it would be able to build. Despite the importance and value of keeping customers delighted, very few companies succeed at doing so relentlessly and consistently.
Is your company customer centric? How do you know if customer centricity is at the core of your business? Companies that keep customers at the centre of their business, would not only celebrate when they gain new customers, but would also celebrate their achievements and successes. Customer centric companies ensure that their customers always feel valued and important, and therefore ensure that they have a robust and continuous customer feedback gaining process. These companies gather customer feedback in a structured and formal manner, and convert the feedback into actionable items, which result in better service and products for the customers. Customer feedback would drive their business. To ensure that customers can see that their feedback is used actively, companies must use the feedback to create customized new products, ensure improvements in the current range of products and services, and ensure better ability to predict customer needs and expectations.
Making customer centricity the core of business is not just about pumping resources in the customer service efforts, systems, and daily operations. It is rather about showing genuine concern for customers, fulfilling their needs, solving their problems, and meeting their demands in the most efficient and speedy manner possible. It is about understanding that if there were no customers, there would be no point of the business anyway. Customers run a business, help a company make profits, and pay the remuneration and benefits for employees (including the top line of the company). Customer centricity is about understanding and appreciating the role of customers in the company’s success, and realizing that it is the right of customers to expect companies to care about them. Customers rightly expect companies to make products that would make their lives simpler and help them achieve success and an answer to their emotional needs. This is what customer centricity should be about.
Making customer centricity the core of business means that everything within a company begins and ends with the customer’s happiness in mind. This would become the normal process of the company – not a one-off event. Customer centricity must become the culture and belief system of the company, not something that a company focuses on when it has the time. By keeping customer centricity at the core of business, a company in effect provides everyone associated with the company a direction towards which each one should focus their efforts. When everyone in the company focuses their energy in this same direction, it would result in higher levels of customer retention, more business, higher profits, and sustainable success for the company and everyone in it. We believe that customer centricity must be part of the company’s values and philosophy such that it is woven inextricably into the ‘fabric of the company’. Each person within the company would then have a better understanding of what customer centricity involves, and how their roles and responsibilities contribute towards keeping it at the core of the business.
Another aspect of making customer centricity the core of business, is not about creating hype – but rather instilling it as an attitude and mind-set of conducting business that would yield higher returns and a significant increase in the value and reputation of the brand. It would have robust and tangible effects, which a company must monitor and track consistently. According to a study, companies that exhibit sustained customer centricity are valued higher when compared to other market players – statistics prove this fact too – companies have a 60-70% higher chance of selling to long-standing existing customers, while these figures are about 5-20% for new / prospective customers. Customer centricity within an organization can spread and last only when everyone believes in it and understands its benefits.
It is the onus of the leadership to promote aggressively the effects of enhanced customer satisfaction on the performance of the company, ensuring that all those associated with the company know that customer centricity is at the core of the company’s business. It should be obvious and apparent to everyone working within and those who enter the company that customer satisfaction is the top most priority of the company. Putting customers before everything else does not only earn the respect and trust of customers, it also enhances the confidence of other stakeholders of the company. When customers are happy, the company would be successful, and everyone benefits from associating with a profitable company. As mentioned, driving customer centricity cannot be the job of only the leadership and or customer service teams. Each employee must feel empowered and have the confidence to make spot decisions to benefit customers. They must know that they would not be penalized or ridiculed for taking decisions that would not always be in favour of the company, but would help the customers nonetheless.
Keeping employees motivated within their own core jobs is a tough ask as it is. Keeping them motivated when expecting them to do things outside their core jobs is almost impossible. Hence, companies must have a robust reward and recognition program in place that would link the growth, development, and incentives of employees with customer centricity and resultant customer satisfaction levels. This would motivate employees to do whatever necessary to help customers, serve them with empathy, and work towards making their lives simpler and happier. By making customer centricity part of the employee appraisal and increment system, and ensuring that the top-level persons lead by example, a company would find it a lot easier to make customer centricity the core of business. The benefits of doing so are many – higher customer retention, more business, better sales, and sustainable customer loyalty and brand advocacy.