Advancements and developments in technologies and communications, correlated to the growth of data and information availability, configured within a constantly changing market landscape, have given rise to more empowered and self-aware customers. Particularly, it is crucial for companies to attain significant outcomes in terms of engagement, retention, and loyalty. Customers, nowadays, are growing more and more diverse, sophisticated, hedonistic, and demanding. They have higher expectations, they are driven by convenience, flexibility, and personalization.
In order to meet these constantly shifting expectations, companies should consider investing in initiatives granting improvements in four main dimensions: service quality, loyalty rewards, communication, and product transparency. Aligning your company with a customer-centric approach is the essential strategic practice to successfully undergo this transition and to ultimately reach the sought goal: build meaningful, long-lasting, and win-win relationships with your customers.
The path towards customer-centricity
To achieve customer-centricity as a strategic paradigm securing your business with core and differentiated competitive advantages, your company needs to undertake a comprehensive restructuring, based on five main steps:
1. Redefine your customer relationships
Traditionally, companies have always been product-centric, meaning they have been focusing on developing the best product on the market they operated in, and to deliver that product in the most cost-effective and efficient way. Nowadays, designing the perfect product does not ensure successful results in the market, as it is a given from your customers’ point of view. On the contrary, your products or services need to be developed in relation to your customers’ needs and expectations. Embracing what your customers most desire from your company, and their relationship with it, will positively impact your business performance
2. Redefine your operating models
Your company is recommended to shift its operating models from traditional processes towards a more customer-centric approach, which implies a business model designed and rooted around a deep understanding of your customers. This entails the recognition and analysis of different customer segments, the continuation of an active dialogue with your customers, that supports your company in acting on their feedbacks. Furthermore, it is crucial to rely on customer-driven decision-making processes, and ultimately to design a positive and seamless experience at every touch point across your customers’ life-cycle.
3. Redefine your organizational structure
In order to orientate all your strategic efforts towards achieving greater customer-centricity, your company needs to redefine its organizational structure, that has to revolve around your customers. Therefore, your company has to be fully integrated, relying on different skills-holders sharing information and collaborating in synchronous from top to bottom. Moreover, it is recommended to abandon the hierarchical and over-structured silos configuration, in favour of a flatter yet more dynamic model, which nurtures higher adaptability to change and increased flexibility.
4. Redefine your technology tools and mixes
The key to attaining positive results is to rely on data, analysis, insights, and information. Those are the pillars in granting your company with a full grasp on your customers, to perfectly picture their needs, and to mirror their expectations into a satisfying experience to be delivered. However, data collection for the sake of itself will not yield results on its own, and your company is rather recommended to invest in the right technologies, dedicated teams, and to redefine the right balanced mix between tools and skills.
5. Redefine your company’s culture
The most important step in your company’s journey towards achieving greater customer-centricity is a comprehensive cultural refinement in your organization. Following the previously mentioned steps will grant your business with the ability to catch up to the leaders within the market, however, to overtake the competition and attain significant growth, your company has to undergo a cultural change. Specifically, it is suggested to focus on constant innovation, changing your approach in the strategic decision-making processes, embedding idea-generation and creative thinking as the basis of every single process, tactic, and project your company embarks into.
Thus, the journey towards greater customer-centricity requests your company to undergo an overall alteration in its business core, as it involves all parts of your organization. It will be needed for your firm to define its customer segments, to match their expectations with your solutions rather than your products or services. Moreover, it is suggested to involve all your departments and divisions towards a single overall goal of delivering a customer-focused experience, in order to generate successful customer engagement initiatives that will boost loyalty. Nevertheless, it could be highly detrimental to neglect the development of an organizational culture that not only puts the customers at the centre and aligns to their needs, expectations, and emotions, but it is also required for that culture to be easily adaptable to change. The latter implies that your company should heavily rely on innovative processes and on an overall test-and-learn approach, to accelerate prototyping almost in real-time with your customers’ shifting demands.
Finally, it is recommended to focus on data, and the valuable information about your customers would yield once properly configured within such an organizational structure. Data and data-driven marketing finally is a key corporate asset your company needs to focus on, in order to attain customer-centricity at its finest, as it will be depicted in the next issue.