Can you be a little bit customer centric? No: half measures are just not good enough. Do you pass the test?

A simple test to discover how successful a company has been in becoming customer centric is to ask five employees, from one company but different departments (HR, finance, purchasing etc.) how their company’s  customer centricity actually translates to you as a customer. Very few companies I have approached have been able to come up with a uniform,  clear or enthusing answer.

What does customer centricity mean? Firstly it is about translating deep customer insights into specific products and services. Superior datamining and research is needed to derive segment specific differentiation strategies. Secondly however, it also requires a customer centric organisational structure that implements customer centricity at all levels. The HR manager communicating to a potential job prospect has as much a role to play as the call centre employee.

Customer centricity asks for a systemised overhaul in four broad areas: brand positioning, customer experience, go to market plan and new organisational model.

To flesh out where you should be focussing your next efforts ask yourself the following:

Brand positioning

  • Is you brand based on a customer promise? Built on insights and translated to all stakeholders and for all possible circumstances?
  • Have you checked if employees understand, like or support it. Are they encouraged to provide feedback?
  • Have you linked the brand promise to all goals and incentive mechanisms?

Customer experience

  • Do you have a clear understanding per segment what really matters?
  • Is there a process in place to keep those insights up to date?
  • Are channels (including social media) organised to enhance the customer experience?
  • Are customers recognised and treated consistently wherever they interact?
  • Are customer touchpoint employees empowered to act or escalate if need be?
  • Is there a profit optimisation process in place to readjust customer experience if required?

Go to market plan

  • Do you distinguish between different customer segment based on values and needs and do you act upon this?
  • Do you have customer value metrics in place to also drive attitudinal loyalty?
  • Do you coordinate fully across sales, marketing and customer service and leverage the full marketing toolkit?
  • Do they operate in concert and understand each other’s role and responsibility?

New organisational model

  • Have you organised around customer insights and segments and eliminated organisational silos?
  • Is there a well-structured governance process in place which uses customer insights for decision making?
  • Are there customer insight champions appointed in each line of business and are they fully  empowered?
  • Is the remuneration system based on (joint) customer experience targets?

Customer centricity can only lead to greater loyalty, higher retention, higher sales and higher profits if it is anchored deep within the company and constitutes a major part of its DNA. You have to go all the way.

Author: Joan Willemse. helps companies become more customer centric by conducting customer centric audits using the “commercieel groei model”

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