Crisp and early on the morning of the 17th July we had yet again a full house, the subject, Customer Centricity. The morning scene was that of people from different organisations and disciplines meeting each other around the breakfast spread and sharing a cup of coffee.

Our OD cafes don’t just invite great conversation and share knowledge, they connect!

We started the session off by looking at what Customer Centricity was from a broad perspective. Because many organisations today feel that Customer Centricity IS Customer Experience and that this “activity” is mainly handled by the customer care division or run by the customer custodians in the organisation. When we started to unpack Customer Centricity from a philosophical standpoint, the thinking expanded. Customer Experience for example is everything an organisation does, in order to generate customer delight, but Customer Centricity is a way of being which engages every employee throughout the business. It’s a fundamental shift that is required in the hearts and minds of everyone in the organisation.

Making the shift from a Product Centric organisation to a Customer Centric organisation takes a great deal of alignment and commitment from leadership.

The Customer Centric strategy needs to come alive! The way the business is organised around the customer as well as the systems and technology deployed for customer insight and intelligence needs to be in place. Leadership have to model the correct behaviour to start influencing and nurturing a culture of customer centricity. The people in the organisation may need to be trained and re-focused on this new way of being and doing. There may be a need for teams such as the VOC (Voice of the Customer) and VOE (Voice of the Employee) to assist in the internal and external brand alignment initiatives. The list goes on.

We invited conversation from the room around particular challenges in moving towards a more Customer Centric way of doing business, and some interesting points emerged, including:

  • The technology around Customer Experience has become extremely powerful and enables the business to move more quickly to action around customer insights and intelligence, but technology is only half the story. Getting people in the organisation to adopt this enabling tech and building the proper teams to act on the information in a timely manner is another challenge.
  • Using technology in the customer journey could be destructive if the business hasn’t adequately segmented their customers and understood what each customer segment required from the business at each point in the journey. For example, when calling a customer care line and the automated responses frustrates more than they solve customer issues.
  • How does a business seamlessly put human connection into an optimised process to enable smooth resolution of customer complaints where human connection is needed, and at which point?
  • Customers are connecting not only around a brand experience and trust for the brand, they are also connecting to organisations because the corporate social responsibility initiatives are in line with what the customer cares for as well. Customers are engaging with organisations and brands from a more holistic perspective.
  • Organisations need to work hard at engaging their staff and creating a Brand Ambassador out of each them. We heard that engagement is a massive challenge with organisations, only a small percentage are engaged and a fairly substantial portion of the workforce may be dismantling the brand through their conversations with others. Talking about how they are frustrated and unhappy creates mistrust and doubt about the brand in the eyes of their audience. Each employee is a PR agent for the business!
  • We heard that customers are extremely well informed and what they require from an organisation in their customer journey may not in fact be information, but rather to get a feel for the brand. As Edgar Schein would say, get a smell of the place.
  • It was reiterated that the leadership of the organisation needs to connect to this way of being “Customer Centric” and connect others to it. Leadership needs to create excitement for Customer Centricity in the organisation and help people align to the purpose of this new way of being and doing. If those things aren’t being owned and role modeled by leadership, the Customer Centricity initiatives become a tick-box exercise. As Jay Galbraith pointed out in his book, Designing the Customer-Centric Organisation, it becomes a “cosmetic gloss of Customer Focus”.

So knowing all of this, why would an organisation want to move towards being Customer Centric from a Product Centric way of doing business? Business is hard enough as it is in this ever shifting business landscape!

Some of the benefits of a Customer Centric organisations are that they have fiercely loyal customers giving a greater share of wallet for a longer period of time and are able to enjoy higher margins.

This shift does not happen overnight and is a huge commitment. Are you prepared to make the jump? If you are and would like to find out more, please give us a call, we would love to share coffee with you and have a great conversation!

P.s Some more goodies you may want to consider in your move towards Customer Centricity:

    • Organising highly effective and healthy teams around your customer – Learn more
    • Engaging your internal customer with killer consulting skills – Learn more
    • Building the internal capability of system wide OD thinking and the skills to pull it off – Learn more

Roy Fletcher, Relationship Manager