In the romantic view of creativity, the artist waits. Then in a flash of inspiration, the artist suddenly receives a fully formed idea. All the artist has to do is bring it to life.
In a more realistic view, as regular artists and creative types can tell you, you have to get to work to be productive. Creating a body of work is not about waiting for a lighting strike. It’s about working, discipline, and problem solving.
If you wait for the perfect idea, then you’re not going to create much. But, if you keep working and improving, one day, you’ll be able to look back on a body of work.
The same can be said of customer centricity.
Customer centricity doesn’t happen overnight. It requires ongoing effort and commitment. It’s the end result of a lot of work.
Seeking Result: Must Love Process
If you want to build a customer-centric culture at your company, then you’d better be able to live with process and incremental improvement. Each project, each issue, each action, will get you closer to your end goal. But they’ll also reveal new projects, new issues, and new actions.
If we boil it down to its essence, there’s a five-step process to customer centricity. Without further ado:
1. Commit to Change
Customer-centric culture is a matter of commitment at all levels of your business. That means that every department has to be ready, and empowered, to make changes to improve customer experience. Buy-in from leadership is the keystone here. How your leadership approaches reviewing metrics, taking action, and supporting employees can make or break the entire effort.
Our clients that have seen the most successful changes have made customer experience a top business priority. This helps all employees approach issues with a focused lens: how can I make this better for the customer?
While you’re working to become more customer-centric, you might discover big, ugly issues and face harsh business realities. That’s why commitment is so important: it can paint those issues as either dead-ends or opportunities for improvement.
2. Decide on Your Ideal Customer
Your business can’t be everything to everyone. Rather than focus on every type of customer that walks through the door, it’s much more effective to concentrate on what you consider your ideal customers.
Many organizations skip this step, but it’s extremely important on your journey to customer-centricity. (Notice it’s not “customers-centricity,” but that may be because that’s very awkward to say aloud.)
Simply put, you need to know who your best customers are, what their pain is, and how you can help.
For this step, we conduct Wows and Woes studies to help our clients segment customers, determine their pain points, and reveal what they (and their competition) deliver in their experience that addresses or adds to that pain.
3. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
You can collect customer feedback in any number of ways, including surveys, interviews, or focus groups. And you can collect customer feedback in a variety of different circumstances, including after key transactions, at events, or when customers unsubscribe from an email list.
Because of those variations, you should collect your feedback in a way that helps you discover and address small issues immediately, as well as identify larger, complex issues and trends by analyzing aggregate data.
At PeopleMetrics, we believe that customer centricity involves listening to customers throughout their relationship with you. That belief guides our thinking and our product design:
Our Voice of the Prospect platform helps clients identify strengths and weaknesses in their consultative sales process—before customers are customers.
Our Voice of the Customer platform helps clients improve their customer experience—while they’re customers.
Our Voice of the Employee platform helps clients listen to their employees—to support their efforts to serve customers.
Our CultureMetrics tool helps clients measure how customer-centric they are--so they can take steps to build a culture centered on customers.
Our goal is to provide insights into all of your you can make them happier about doing business with you.
4. Taking Action
Once you’ve identified pain points in your experience, then it becomes a matter of addressing them. Issues that need immediate attention should receive it. Issues that are more complex should be taken on in stages, in accordance with the flexibility of the business.
At first, this can be relatively easy. But over time, it can be more difficult than it seems.
5. Smile and Repeat
To relate it to creativity, each action is a new project. At the beginning of the journey, it’s easy to take actions and see progress. But as you continue, each action might not have the same obvious impact.
This is where step one (i.e., “Committing to Change”) comes back into play. Customer-centric cultures aren’t built overnight. They take time, work, and discipline.
Now, this doesn’t have to be discouraging. Rather, it gives you the opportunity to acknowledge your small victories, and the employees who achieved them. Because of the collective nature of culture, every accolade, every great story, and every lesson learned can be fuel to get you closer to customer centricity. And at the end of a road of focused action, one day, you may just look back and realize that you’re where you wanted to go.
Interested in learning more? Then check out our case study, featuring one of our clients dedicated to customer centricity.
Posted on 01-14-2015