Look up, and you see the North Star, a guiding light used for centuries as a navigational reference point. Look around your organization, and you’ll see the ‘customer constellation’. These are the brightest stars of all, around which everything a company does revolves, forms, and contextualizes.
... Don’t heed their warnings, and their gravity will rip an organization apart. Yet, back off too far, and your company may drift into oblivion.
But being Customer Centric shines a light into this deep space. It is the gleaming aspiration of a business, a vivid depiction of how an organization wants customers to feel, and the experience they want them to have. In short, it reorients a brand’s direction to meet consumer expectations.
Customers may have all the power and burn brighter than any company on earth, but Customer Centric organizations are more likely to survive and bathe in their afterglow.
At Your Core
With ferocious economic shifts currently ripping companies like Toys ‘R’ Us apart, including the flux of digital, being Customer Centric is a way of conducting business that provides a positive experience before and after the sale. This strategy aims to deliver repeat business, customer loyalty, and improved profits. It’s a methodology based on putting your customer first and placing them at the core of your organization.
Of course, being Customer Centric is so much more than mere good service. It requires a focused and insightful consumer experience, from the initial awareness stage, through the purchasing process, and finally beyond the post-purchase process. The value-chain is thus redirected from focusing on the product, to focusing on the customer.
Four steps to being more Customer Centric
- Understanding buying behavior: An organization must understand a customer’s experiences at each stage of their to fully engage with them.
- Define the customer buying cycle: Having understood your customer’s buying needs, you must then define your customer’s buying cycle to optimize how you communicate with them throughout the sales process.
- Improve moments of truth: Improving customer experience also means bettering each touch point within your business. This can range from high levels of support to special deals and incentives.
- Improving support content and tools: This step involves making yourself useful to your customer at times when they might not have thought to ask for your help. This creates insightful and customer-focused support systems.
Customer Centric: Have the Edge
One of the biggest trump cards a company has is being more Customer Centric than the rest, and delivering a more worthwhile experience. Consumers are increasingly focused on relationships and business outcomes rather than solely on products and services. This has a tactical benefit too, as by harnessing the power of your workforce, you can bring everybody into play rather than expecting individual teams, like sales, to work in isolation.
This way, you can also integrate the needs of your most important customers into corporate planning from an early stage. For example:
- Which customers are the key accounts?
- What are the goals of the key accounts?
- How do the key accounts measure success?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of these key accounts?
- How can we progress to joint growth?
By combining your goals with the interests of the customer, and developing future scenarios together with your end-users, you can focus your resources on the essentials. Ask your customers for feedback, then engage with your consumers and help them get what they need, whether it’s a new item, or a competitive advantage in their own industry, through your services and products.
Customers across all industries have more power today than ever. With 24-hour online access, global transport of goods and services, and comparative information and feedback sites, consumers have the tools to be both selective and destructive. What was once called word-of-mouth is now fully branded user-generated-content. A bad review, a shoddy product, or unfriendly service is now seen by millions. Instantly.
Therefore, the quality and price of something are no longer enough to close a deal. The difference must be in the overall experience the customer has throughout the shopping and purchase process.
As discussed in part two of this blog series:, organizations can achieve a Customer Centric focus through Design Thinking. In fact, this methodology is prerequisite to being Customer Centric, because your firm experiences a service or process from the customer perspective.
This way, you gain a deeper understanding of consumer wants, needs, and realities. In turn, this leads to solutions and innovations developed around improving the customer experience rather than improving the characteristics or functionality of a single product or service.
Revolution not Evolution
The slogan “the customer is always right” was popularized by successful retailers such as Harry Selfridge in the early 1900s. But today this just isn’t enough. Organizations must strive to revolutionize the rule books to safeguard tomorrow’s success. There is no point nurturing and evolving our failures, so we all just make the same mistakes but quicker and more efficiently than the competition. Business isn’t a race to the bottom.
Customer experience is vital to achieving success, and a strong BPM initiative, coupled with tight customer journey mapping, helps us look beyond traditional process maps, and case models, to more customer centric constructs.
… It’s true; customers form the brightest and scariest constellation in deep space. But this just means their afterglow is even more rewarding.
Check back next week for a special summary of this blog series..
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