thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

The Benefits of Being Customer-Centric

By on March 4, 2009

Being customer-centric is the best way to supercharge your organization. When I present to audiences about thinking like a customer, they all say they want to become more customer-centric. However, few of them can really articulate WHY they want to become that way.

Let's explore the benefits of transitioning your organization to becoming more customer-centric. First and foremost are profits. "Companies that improve their ability to consistently meet their customers' needs will produce positive bottom-line business results." (Mikel Harry, Richard Schroeder, Six Sigma). The financial perspective is a direct benefit that starts most organizations on the journey to increased customer relevance. There are many other reasons, of course, but let's focus on two that are even more important.

First, customer-centricity produces freedom for an organization. "The customer is in world class organizations, not outside...If left outside, the customer gets treated with indifference at best, and offers the same in return." (Richard Shonberger, AchieveGlobal). Freedom empowers everyone in the organization to customize their treatment of customers rather than to deliver lackluster performances that customers feel are indifferent. Freedom rises out of the confidence that all employees understand why and for whom they are working. Freedom also manifests itself when a company is proactively working on customer solutions, rather than reactively handling complaints and resolving customer issues. All of this translates to fewer worries, coupled with brand new opportunities to achieve greater heights in terms of innovative and creative solutions.

Secondly, companies will enjoy stronger employee loyalty if they embrace strong customer relationship values. While your employees certainly want to receive a paycheck from you, they really care more about their customers than they do about you. Sorry to break the news to you. Much of employees' satisfaction comes from delivering strong, common-sense solutions to their customers. Customer-centric organizations rise above internal procedures, which the customer does not care about, and focus on a logical service or product which makes the customer's life easier. Employees' answers to our surveys always confirm that the way their employer treats customers is one of the most important drivers of their satisfaction as workers. If employees are empowered to take care of their customers, they will like working for you much better. Not a bad combination, is it? Happier, more committed employees and customers at the same time.

Companies that outperform the competition have "customers" as a core competency. Teach everyone in your organization the benefits of being customer-centric. Don't assume that they know. Communicating the positive results of thinking like a customer in every aspect of your business will serve as a foundation or touchstone that will accelerate the transition within your organization. Being customer-centric aligns everyone around one purpose-to make the customer successful-and the customer loves you for it. But, your organization also reaps the benefits in ways most leaders haven't considered. Those other benefits are the real reasons that you start the transformation.

Image by © Ingolf Hatz/zefa/Corbis

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3 Responses to “The Benefits of Being Customer-Centric”

  1. Mark Price says:

    Customer-centricity absolutely has dramatic impact across an organization, leading to increased market share, profits and share-of-customer.

    The big question, though, is how to get there. A great example is the issue of freedom. The best practice is Ritz-Carleton, which empowers their employees to spend up to $300 to immediately solve customers' problems. When I suggested this approach to a retailer with whom I work, they countered that the challenge was to make sure that employees did not use the money for themselves.

    This example speaks to the significant culture change that customer-centricity requires, as employees move from an "internal" orientation (on the fulfillment of their tasks) to an "external" one -- meeting the requirements of their customers.

  2. Bill Self says:

    You are correct that "getting there" is far from automatic. It inevitably starts with buy-in by the CEO and other senior leaders and that is where our process begins--with demonstrating what the improved results will look like. This translates to C-level buy-in not only for the employee empowerment component but also for the commitment to ongoing measurements that will prove the positive results are occurring. It is transformational for most organizations, but well worth it.

  3. [...] Self, in another excellent blog posting, “The Benefits of Being Customer-Centric“, speaks to the benefits of moving an organization to focusing on filling customer needs, not [...]

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