In a world of globalisation, digitisation, fierce competition, and most recently, a pandemic of epic disruption, customer-centricity has taken prime spot on business agendas. Just about all companies have come to realise how critical it is to shift to a more customer-centric approach as a means of differentiation and to build competitive advantage.
Today, with a plethora of knowledge available at the touch of a button, and endless options at one’s fingertips, customer-centricity dictates brand loyalty and profit margins. But how do you go about creating a truly customer-centric business? You need to start with the customer first.
The driving force is to make it your mission to help your customers reach their business goals. This means thinking less about how much you are selling and more on how a product or service helps customers thrive in their businesses. You focus on what your customers want to achieve and you evolve your organisation around their needs, becoming an integral, and indispensable ally to their growth journey. It requires a complete change in mind-set away from operational to placing the customer at the heart of the process and developing outwards from there.
The most important component of this equation is to align and motivate all teams to have the customer’s success as their highest priority. Every single person working in a customer-centric organisation should be made to feel that they have an important role to play in this process. This comes down to culture and training; both of which are equally important to cultivate a customer-first mindset and inspire people to take on the responsibility of exceeding customer expectations.
Commitment from the top is also important and goes beyond simply discussing customer matters in the boardroom. Senior management have to be just as involved in driving customer success as any frontline employee. They are responsible for building that culture and driving that momentum internally, while setting an example for all teams to follow.
Today, customers demand tailored solutions and constant innovation. This is not an easy task and requires continuous client discussions, agility, flexibility and monitoring of trends. It also requires organisations to allow their customers to be part of the innovation journey.
Lastly, capturing customer feedback and converting this into tangible improvements is paramount. Customer surveys are very common across businesses. But while they are valuable tools, they also represent a very impersonal way of capturing feedback via a static questionnaire. Customer-centric companies go one step further: they engage in frequent direct dialogue, facilitating the exchange of ideas and views because they know that sharing insights and knowledge leads to natural improvements.
Customer centricity requires a fundamental shift in the way a company thinks and operates; but it needs to be approached as an ever-evolving journey and not an end destination, and companies need to be vested in taking this route which is no longer an option but has become a necessity for business survival.