Customer-centricity means so many things to different people, but to customers it means one thing: having their best interests as your top priority. Let's face it: whatever your heart is centered on is where you'll most likely excel. We see it again and again with marriages, children, hobbies, and bosses — when your efforts are centered around any of those interests, your outputs will probably be rewarded accordingly.
A customer-centered culture is not "driven" by customers to exclude the interests of employees or shareholders/investors. If you think about it, customers don’t want your employees or your company to be unsuccessful. But to maximize your success, you need to optimize (i.e. balance) everyone's interests, with the lifeblood of everyone's compensation as your guiding light. The lifeblood of paychecks, dividends, and budgets is not revenue per se — that's a by-product — rather, the lifeblood is this: addressing customers' needs better than anyone/anything else is addressing them.
"Culture" is an organization's way of thinking and doing. Straightforward assessment of mindsets and behaviors is the essential starting point — and ongoing reality-check — for becoming what your customers need you to be.
To setup for success, focus on this:
- Get objective assessments of executives' and employees' customer-centered thinking and doing, early and often. Not just customer-facing folks, but everyone behind the scenes and your alliance partners, suppliers, etc.
- Create a shared vision that's based on customers' views.
- Set expectations for broad engagement in actions and closing the loop with customers.
- Draft a roadmap that injects customer-centered decisions and actions into everything the company does.
- Expediting issues for top customers is not a good measure of being customer-centered.
- A feeling of being close to your customers because of physical proximity or frequency or intensity of interactions does not necessarily mean you're customer-centric.
Why? Because it's typically too little, too late, and because everyone in your company has a ripple effect on customers' jobs-to-be-done. Being reactive is costly. Being proactive is efficient. Being systemic and holistic is the key to being effective.
A sensible approach to customer-centricity is what' needed for sustained customer experience business results. In fact, companies that optimize (i.e. balance) the interests of investors, employees, and customers — keeping an eye on customers' jobs-to-be-done as a guiding light — have proven superior financial health, growth, and raving fans, as described in the book Firms of Endearment. For long-lasting customer experience ROI, set yourself up for success, nurture mindsets, and encourage behaviors that build customer-centered excellence.
- Customer Centric Culture is one of the six domains in the body of knowledge advocated by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). (ClearAction offers a CCXP Exam Prep Course.)
- The concept of "Do This, Not That" is borrowed from the popular book "Eat This, Not That", where the weaknesses of common practices and myths are brought to light and sensible replacements are recommended.
Other articles in this series: