Organisations that place their products and services at the centre of their corporate thinking face the same fate as the dinosaurs – they are doomed to extinction. They need to change their culture and behaviours from the very core; to stop pushing products and to start winning customers hearts, minds – and wallet share.
photo credit: williamcho
Unfortunately, many companies are still plodding along with an outdated, and inward-facing view of their business world. Whilst they continue focussing on themselves, the customer is moving on to develop relationships with companies that value them as individuals and that know just how – and when – to address their needs.
In order to survive (and thrive), 21st century businesses must adopt a more customer-centric business model . This model should extend to every part of the organisation, from research, product development, marketing, sales, delivery/operations through to customer service.
Customer-centricity provides a personalised experience…
Companies that made the move from mass marketing to segmented marketing during the late 1900’s cannot rest on their laurels – the new rules of engagement dictate a customer-centric approach to doing business; one that fulfils the needs and wants of each individual customer – creating a tailored, personal experience that makes the customer feel:
“Welcomed, Wanted, Remembered, Cared For”
This particular statement encapsulates the behaviours that RitzCarlton Hotels staff use – as well as the renowned customer experience – that those behaviours deliver.
The journey to Customer-centricity…
As part of the journey to building a customer-centric organisation, we need to examine 5 key components or themes that blend together to affect the success – or failure – of a company:
- Customers – ultimately, the customer is why we do what we do – without customers, we have no-one to consume our products or services and no reason to produce or deliver them. Whether we are public sector or private sector, our customers can be internal to the organisation as well as external and the transactions do not necessarily involve the exchange of money.
- People – the foundation and cornerstones of your business, the un-sung heroes that serve your customers on a day-to-day basis, the ‘oil in the machine’.
- Process – what you do and how you do it determines your bottom-line business costs, the the top-line revenue generated and, ultimately, the profit (or loss) made by your company.
- Technology – enables people to process work more efficiently and in ways otherwise not possible; may be used as an enabler or differentiator – or may be the actual product or service offered. It could also be the millstone round the neck of your employees, preventing them from delivering a ‘breathtaking customer experience’ and causing uneccessary bottlenecks and inefficiences.
- Change – we must understand that nothing we do is perfect, that the landscape we operate within does not stand still. We must listen to our customers, the competition, the markets, the economy, the regulatory bodies, the legislators. We must continually adapt and improve just to survive; if we want to be successful, we must constantly innovate and lead in our market space.
Each of these themes is explored in greater detail in the remaining articles in this series.
If you focus on the customer – the sales will come. What businesses don’t realize is that customers talk. Whether they know it or not, or accept social media or not – they will talk. If they do their best to serve them well – then they’ll have a positive gathering of paying customers. It’s a great thing!
Indeed, Christian, the sales will come if you continue to focus on the customer.
Thanks for reading and commenting, means a lot to me! 🙂
I also believe that we need to understand that – even if we focus on the customer – the sale may not come with THAT customer at this particular time. We need to stay in it for the long game – the long term relationship is where we can add value and ultimately derive the rewards that we will then deserve.
I often say to my consulting prospects that, if I can help bring them to the right decision for them, then I have achieved my objectives – even if that means them NOT buying my services!
I would rather have a happy non-customer, than an unhappy customer!
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The advancement f technology indeed is a big help to everyone especially in communicating your customers. But more importantly, we should not forget the values of moral to good customer service.
We should definitely remember our morals when providing customer service!
We must continually adapt and improve just to survive; if we want to be successful, we must constantly innovate and lead in our market space.
Indeed we must – average does not cut it any more; excellence is the expected norm – we really need to add value and exceed customers expectations in order to thrive in 21st century business.
thanks for posting! i learned really good insights and ideas from your post… 🙂
Thanks for the feedback, Paj!
One business secret a newbie should learn is, making goodwill to customer. Customer is the core of the system. Once you don’t give focus to this people, business usually die down.
I hope you enjoy the rest of this 6 part series that explores exactly that theme.
I would like to say thank you for this information. This is very true especially in business if you want to gain and to have a long term relationship with your customer.
True! In fact, it’s the only way, Amelia.
An old time businessman, my dad, once said that the core of the business is the customers. Creating good will to them will have a positive result on your business. If you can extend some more favor to them then go on, if it still within the limit of business protocol. We had a construction supply before, and when customers from far a way city buys something from us, my father would offer transporting it and them too so they can go home free of fare. Well, why not be friendly to them they are still a future customers. They will keep coming back if you show them god things.
Your dad was obviously a wise businessman!
His approach holds true even more today than it did then.
Customers these days expect good service as the norm.
Excellent, extraordinary service that makes a customer go “WOW!” is what differentiates a company and is likely to develop strong loyalty and brand advocacy.
Thanks for stopping by.
The customer is moving on to develop relationships with companies that value them as individuals and that know just how – and when – to address their needs. | 😛
Absolutely. You can also think of this as a shift from trying to sell to the customer on the company’s terms, to enabling the customer to buy – on their terms.
Great post!i think this model should extend to every part of the organisation, from research, product development, marketing, sales.i am so glad that i found this post i am surely use this application in my future works.
You are quite correct Pauline – the truly customer-centric organisation alligns ALL parts of the organisation around the customer -it is much more than customer service.
Great post. Very interesting and educational for a small entrepreneur like me. Thanks!
Thanks for the feedback!
I think more than most of the time even a good product will not be able to sell itself – it takes a whole lot of work building up customer trust. Once that seed is sewn though, customers lead to more customers – you have to allow them to interact properly though. Social media where people can talk about your products is a great and organic way to spread the word.
Thanks for again for the article 🙂
Absolutely right Graham.
More and more of my corporate customers are seeing this as well – the result being that a Social Media strategy that links directly into the whole Customer Engagement model, is rapidly becoming the norm.
Organisations are realising that the conversation about them is going on with or without them – and that they had better join in the convesation – in an appropriate manner, of course.
Whether that is on the main Social Media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn – or on the company website, in the form of customer reviews for example.
Either way, the company needs to be responding to comments/reviews, especially those that show the company in a less than favourable light. Responding with a solution to a problem will help to take the sting out of a poor review or bad experience – showing prospective customers that a company accepts its mistakes, is listening, and is prepared to make up for them.
Most of your points are well in line with how Apple is as a company today. Good foresight!
One of the most rewarding experiences of owning your own business is building a rapport with your customers and becoming a customer centric company. If you’re able to interact with those consumers in a fun experience chances are you can convert them into repeat, lifetime customers.
Thanks for the great post.
Fun in business is underrated and overlooked – professionalism is often key (particularly if you are a funeral director!), but I firmly believe that injecting the right amount of humour into the working environment can reap huge rewards, not only on the personal/psyhological nourishment level, but in terms of both customer and employee engagement.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting Chris, I look forward to engaging with you further.
Well, partly, I agree, it is important to honor customers’ opinions… But customers shouldn’t be the ones that solely dictate your future endeavors. Sometimes, customers aren’t even sure what they want, and if you have an idea that you think everyone would like, you should go with your instincts and do it, even though there is no demand for it at the moment.
Gilbert I wholeheartedly agree – often, us customers do not know what we want/need until it is held under our noses! Innovation and game-changing are an essential component of delivering awesome customer experience. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you, you gave me new ideas for my website. I hope this doesn’t bother you that I take up this subject in my next article.Sincerely, Tom