Critical questions for enabling true customer centricity
Customer centricity has become one of the most commonly used expressions in the last decade. While many organisations have attempted to become customer-centric, few have been successful in placing the customer at the heart of their business decisions and as a partner in the organisation’s journey.
A key challenge in enabling true customer-centricity is being able to hold and work with shareholder, customer and community perspectives. When delivering profits to shareholders becomes more important than making decisions in the best interests of customers, the positive intentions of the organisation become obscured and the sustainability of the organisation is compromised. As organisations transform to deliver greater benefits to customers and the community, the questions they ask have an impact on how rapidly they are able to adapt to emerging needs.
Below are some questions that we have found useful in accelerating organisational focus and momentum towards true customer centricity and relevance and designing organisational strategy with customers at the centre. These questions help organisations to hold a perspective which encompasses the needs of all stakeholders and can be used as a diagnostic and an ongoing reminder.
What will you be remembered for?
- What current industry practices would be looked upon as shocking or appalling if we were to look ten years into the future?
- What is the organisation’s worst customer practice and how would that be perceived in the media if it was public knowledge?
- When looking through the supply chain of the organisation, how ethical are each of the providers and what practices of our suppliers would not be acceptable to our customers if they were aware of these?
- How responsible is your organisation? Does your organisation meet its ethical and societal obligations – e.g. pays its fair share of tax, reduces externalities such as pollutants, treats its employees with care, is genuinely responsible to the greater whole in the way it conducts itself (beyond a social responsibility charter)?
Emerging and future needs
- What is the biggest industry or societal issue that remains not fully solved which would make a dramatic positive difference to customers if progressed or solved?
- How are current megatrends (data availability, ageing population, technology, radical transparency, globalisation, acceptance of difference etc.) going to shape what is possible? It is often the combination of megatrends that create unimaginable futures.
- Describe a future customer that doesn’t yet exist (say in ten years’ time). How are their needs, expectations and rights radically different from the customer of today?
Establishing a customer-oriented culture
- How can you re-shape current organisational practices (such as short-term incentives) in order to reduce conflict and create greater alignment between customer, employee and organisational interests?
- What are some of the unintended consequences to customers of current organisational policies, procedures, processes or ways of working, and what would need to change to positively transform customer experience?
The sharing economy – creating value for customers, partners and the organisation
- How do you define your purpose and your boundaries as an organisation? For example, what is your role in co-creating the future of your industry? Are suppliers, external partners, contractors and the community part of your organisation?
- What could your customers, partners and key stakeholders be sharing with each other, with you, and you with them that would make a big positive difference?
- What could be your role in creating value by bringing your networks together?
Building deeper customer insight
- How can you help everyone in your organisation get closer to the customer?
- What relationships (and processes) could deepen understanding between you and your customers?
- How do you collect insights from all employees about the value your products and services provide or don’t provide?
Reflect on your answers to these questions. Based on your organisational purpose and combination of attributes (capabilities, market positioning, history, strategic or competitive advantages) what can you uniquely offer that is profitable for your shareholders and transformative for your customers and communities you serve?
If you’re a change leader or culture practitioner who would like to become more adaptive and courageous in guiding cultural evolution, consider joining our next Accredited Practitioner program. This is a 12-month journey starting in October 2018.