Is being «customer centric» a well intentioned management decision, or is it the DNA of a company? Is it a reflection of what you want customers to think you are – or is it a representation of why you are and how you tick?
Is Customer Centricity a reflection on marketing or management?
Here are ten interesting questions to help you discuss how customer centric you are:
- Are there any customers on your board of directors?
- Would you break with a lucrative industry norm if you found that the status quo presented an unfair deal to the customer?
- Is the company using innovation to change the company or keep the ‘old’ customer?
- How would a customer make a decision in your company?
- Can front line employees make important business decision on behalf of the company in their meeting with the customer?
- Is knowledge and insight harvested and protected or let free and cultivated?
- Is the organization hierarchical and linear or decentralized?
- Would you sacrifice shareholder value to gain customer and employee value?
- Are you asking new questions in order to understand your customer that you weren’t even thinking about a year or a month ago?
- What is most important to the company – efficiency or flexibility?
Customer demand patterns are changing
Most companies are designed for efficiency and standardization, effectively meaning that they are designed to keep the customer on the outside (1)
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. The old way of managing a company can easily end up holding both customers and employees hostage to the leaderships self-preserving customer animosity.
Flexibility becomes more important than efficiency
Customer demand patterns are increasingly out pacing companies with the problem set affecting the firm changing on average every seven days (2). Putting the customer first is impossible without a new type of management structure flexible and fast enough to learn and cultivate the customer insight throughout the company continuously and instantly.
Customer centricity isn’t thinking about the customer – it’s working for them
This is what I think it takes to be customer centric:
«Customer centric means gathering, cultivating and distributing knowledge about the customer throughout the organization. So that any talent and every team instantly can make their own decisions based on emerging customer needs – not having them depend on or wait for an organizational structure designed to preserve itself or its players.»
(1) – Shoshana zuboff, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCPvnXUVteA
(2) – Chris Fussell, http://aerials.co/archive/speaker-video-chris-fussell-2/