What If Your Company Could Be Customer-Centered
Organizational client-focus sounds obvious but is hard to achieve. Act strategically, start small and scale quickly for sustainable impact.
Client focus is a key principle in many firms and it is becoming clear that its value runs deeper than communications and quality of service. Its obvious nowadays: customer experience sells. There is however an urgent need to understand success factors of client-centricity. As companies face pressure from start-ups and new business models, traditional companies need to seek ways to quickly adapt to these new conditions. Some cannot take the pressure and face bankruptcy while others remain agile in the face of change. Google, Apple, Amazon, and PayPal, for example, are using their customer base and client knowledge to develop new business models and customer relations. Obstacles to realize a customer centered-organization are diverse: complexity, silos, IT legacy systems to name a few — but remaining relevant to customers is a critical success factor for all companies.
«Customer centricity is quickly promised and only slowly implemented — it's a journey where all organizational units have to rethink their habits.»
Establishing customer centricity will require a fundamental new approach and additional skills for your organization. Important questions include: Where can we start? How can we scale client-focus? How can we adapt to the conditions outlined above? How can we firmly embed client-focus within the organization?
It’s the Journey, Stupid
Typical journeys to customer centricity respect the fact that we cannot change everything at the same time and that the learnings on the journey are as important as the result itself. It could look like this:
Inspire, Convince and Learn
Interest in the topic is awakened with experience-driven trainings. With the implementation of smaller projects, customer-centricity quickly gains visibility, and the new method of collaboration can be practiced and improved. With the creation of a physical home for customer-centricity, the long-term commitment is tangible internally.
Prove, Empower and Scale internal specialists guide project teams to adopt a customer-centric approach and develop a «learning by doing» practice. Additional specialists ensure, as part of the project organization, that the customer‘s perspective is taken into consideration during the decision-making process. The consistent application and success of these methods in all strategically relevant projects proves the added value of customer-centricity and generates internal demand for its tools and skills. The additional development and expansion of the pool of facilitators accelerates the adaption of customer-centricity internally.
Anchor, Expand and Enhance
In addition to the existing core unit, smaller customer-centricity teams are established throughout all organizational units (including support units such as IT, infrastructure and HR). These teams enable managers in these units to develop and improve appropriate working methods and conditions in addition to supporting project teams.
Fundamental Changes in Corporate Culture
Our consulting experience shows that the following aspects of corporate culture can be seen more often in less customer-centric organizations:
Perspective change: customer insights and needs are at the start and not the end of product development
Accepting uncertainty: leadership creates conditions that values uncertainties higher than processes and structures
Decision making: additional elements like customer value are part of decision making rather than focussing on technical or financial aspects
Make it tangible: creating environments that are evidence for a customer centric culture will move employees away from their tables
How Will Your Journey Look Like?
Client-centricity is an attitude and not a project with a time stamp. We believe it is worth considering its benefits and craft your own journey. Some questions you may want to reflect on:
How does a successful customer-centric organization look like?
What will change from a customer perspective?
Where can we begin creating the first beacons of success?
Which resources, tools, and skillsets do we need to begin?
What is important for your leadership during this process?
Enjoy the ride.
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