It's easy to assume that everyone knows what they need to about what's important to customers. Perhaps your employees use your products and services in their households, or maybe your executives have worked in the industry for decades. In any case, your "sample size" of inputs about customers' needs is likely too small, and/or your company-wide shared vision of what it means to be customer-centered is probably limited, fractured, or even outdated.
To be clear about customers' needs, it pays to keep in mind that customers buy from you in order to enable a capability they're seeking: peace of mind, enjoyment, pain avoidance, growth, life itself, and/or to serve their stakeholders' needs. These needs. from a customer-centered perspective, are called "customers' jobs-to-be-done".
To nurture customer-centered mindsets, do this:
- Share customers' feedback, suggestions, and stories broadly and frequently.
- Use customer experience excellence characteristics as criteria for hiring, promoting, onboarding, and training employees at all levels and in all functional areas.
- Establish a commitment-making process and consequences (positive and negative).
- Coordinate managers of various customer experience efforts (e.g. CRM, VoC, references, retention, acquisition, service, design, messaging, etc.).
Avoid this: While the attentiveness and friendliness of front-line employees and other customer touch-points are necessary, they're insufficient. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and customer-facing employees and technologies are at the end of a long line of links that permeate everyone inside your company, as well as those you depend upon externally to enable customers' jobs-to-be-done. The interdependence of people, processes, and technologies is real. The interdependence of layers within each of these 3 components is always in motion.
A sensible approach to customer-centricity is what's 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: