How do you make your organisation truly customer-centric?
Customer focus starts with the organisation. Where previously the organisation acted from the product/service, it is now time to focus on the customer. This is because the customer is increasingly selective and is looking for a reliable personal experience where autonomy prevails. This requires customer-centric software, but also a customer-centric mindset. The culture and way of working must be completely focused on the customer. How? You can read it here.
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Why customer focus
Customer-centricity goes hand in hand with the digitalisation that many industries are subject to. The digital market is making the customer relationship more volatile and, at the same time, customers are becoming more critical of the user experience being offered. Organisations that fail to respond to these changing wants and needs, and therefore fail to attract and retain customers, will not survive for long. Not surprisingly, then, large organisations such as Amazon, Zappo and Bol.com have made customer-centricity a top priority.
Econsultancy asked business leaders which attribute is most important for creating a 'digital first' service. Some 58% of those surveyed mentioned 'Customer Centric'. Yet the need for a customer-centric approach has not yet been implemented and noticed everywhere. Only 16% of marketers think their company is truly customer-centric, according to CMO Council and only 11% believe the customer perceives it that way. Why is there such a gap between the importance of customer centricity and practice. The answer is simple; becoming truly customer-centric doesn't happen overnight.
Five steps to becoming customer-centric
Many organisations recognise the importance of customer centricity and translate that into customer-centric functionalities in the software or a better UX. By using such tactics, you respond briefly to current short-term needs. If you want to remain customer-centric in the long term, you need to focus on customer requirements from the core of the organisation. In other words, it is not about a different course but a different ship.
Building such a ship is not an easy process, but it is one that pays off in the long run in loyal and satisfied customers. To become truly customer-centric, organisations need to take a holistic approach to their business model, culture and operations. Harvard Business Review has outlined five steps to becoming truly customer-centric as an organisation:
Step 1: The customer-centric mindset
Everything starts with defining a clear customer-centric strategy and vision. This will guide all other changes. Try to establish and adopt policies that make it easy for employees to make things easy for customers. There should be a switch from selling to customers to helping customers. This translates back to all departments. Think, for instance, of an HR policy that selects on customer-focused skills. Or a marketing strategy that is personal and communicates from the customer's point of view. These changes can be driven by a cross-team steering committee.
Step 2: Customer-oriented data
A prerequisite of customer centricity is having a good understanding of who the customer is. Therefore, follow-up step focuses on customer data. Place customer insights at the heart of operational transformation. Then work on a targeted path towards achieving a 'Single Source of Customer Thruth'. In doing so, also train all employees involved in digital customer contact with the right handling of data. At the same time, make relevant data available to employees who have direct customer contact. Ultimately, good feedback loops ensure that the available data is kept up-to-date.
Step 3: Customer-centric IT and Innovation
Step three is initiating customer-centric innovation with the right application of IT. How do you effectively bring the right change to that. You do that by first pinpointing the friction in the digital customer journey. Where are the pain points and opportunities? The priority here is to create maximum added value for the customer with the primary aim of solving customer problems and facilitating the achievement of customer goals. Define new functionalities that both service and software need to support new customer experience. Deploy different technology expertise to help business leaders understand how to optimise shared data and IT. By using shared data, processes, apps and APIs, it is possible to quickly create new opportunities for customers.
Step 4: Customer-oriented organisational structure
In this step, the ship is increasingly taking shape. Now that the vision, data structure and IT are customer-focused, it is important to align the organisation accordingly. The organisational structure is often a mirror. Product-oriented organisations are divided into product teams, while process-oriented organisations have departments divided into disciplines. Customer-focused organisations have multidisciplinary teams focused on a customer goal. Therefore, align different departments and create one team around each customer goal with the right people involved. Examples are team "login", team "pay", team "view policy". Each team is committed to making achieving the customer goals as easy as possible. This can then also be measured by applying CES. In doing so, embrace agile methodologies to support infinite digital transformation.
Step 5: Customer-centric Employee Experience
The risk in customer-focused organisations is that the employee experience is forgotten. This is a huge shame, as it indirectly influences the customer experience. If it should be easy for the customer, it should also be easy for the customer-employees. Design EX to deliver a unified CX. Invest in systems that enable and encourage collaboration between teams. Train managers and employees to empathise with customers and each other. Empower teams to act in the customer's best interest. Ultimately, it is important that internal IT provides the same user experience as the external software.
These steps have quite an impact on the way of working. Yet it is essential to make such changes to adhere to a sustainable customer-centric strategy. It determines the success of customer-centered software and customer portals. If the core of the organisation is customer-centric, the rest will follow naturally.