There’s a lot of ink spilled these days about a thing called customer centricity. All over the place organisations are calling on their employees to be more “customer-centric”. And amidst a whole jargon filled lexicon of customer experience related terms this one puzzles me the most.
Stripping back the jargon, a customer is a person who buys. And centricity comes from “centric” which means being central or having a centre. So customer centricity is nothing more than a person who buys being central (to the organisation).
So why the hoopla? Since the earliest traders shopped their wares, those who took their custom seriously and made those buying from them feel welcome and important flourished. And I don’t think things haven’t changed all that much.
Sure, the complexity surrounding organisations today can make achieving that goal more difficult but there is one thing that can help simplify things. And no it’s not putting in place complex business models or layers of stuff to think about and do.
You already know how to think about the customer being central. I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t a customer of something. And as customers we often think we should be central in importance. So take advantage of that knowledge.
My suggestion is just ask yourself one question when taking actions or making decisions that impact your customers (in other words lots of things). “Would I be OK with this?”
Would I be OK if I had to be the one to follow up on when my custom-made chair was going to be ready?
Would I be OK if I had to answer the same questions from every person I spoke to during a hospital visit?
Would I be OK if I was called every week for months when all I wanted was a quote to think about?
Would I be OK if the really nice lingerie I bought online arrived in a crushed up postal bag?
Would I be OK if the button fell off the new shirt I bought after two washes?
Would I be OK if something important to my service agreement was buried in the fine print?
Would I be OK if…
I think being customer-centric is really just running a good organisation. Customers (or whatever that word means for your type of organisation) are the engine that keeps trade moving. Without them it all grinds to a halt. So yes it’s important to think like them if you want to keep them (notice I said like them not about them – a critical distinction I explore more here). What making customers central means for you is a whole other layer.
For some orgs it means throwing everything into creating products that hum and sing and make you smile. Others live to please with service that not only goes the extra mile but will take you there in chauffeured comfort. Others have a deep conviction and build that through everything they do earning your love and loyalty along the way.
And here’s where making customers central rubber meets the brand road. You’ve got to know what you care about. You’ve got to know what your non-negotiables are. What promises you can make and keep. Any talk of making customers central without those things just leads to empty “me too” posturing more likely to destroy than build your organisation.
So, by all means embrace making the customer central – it’s always been important for strength and resilience. Just get the foundations in place too.
See you next week with a blog about the difference between building a brand and self promotion.
Michel is an Independent Brand Analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.