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13 Ways to Turn Customer-Centric Theory into Practice 

Bob Thompson | Jan 13, 2017 905 views 4 Comments

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Ready or not, 2017 is here. How will you turn the promise of customer-centricity into value for your customers and your business?

While every situation is different, I thought it would be helpful to see what our 2017 Advisors recommend that business leaders do this year. These thought leaders will be expanding on these topics throughout the year in their monthly columns. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get Advisor column posts and other Editor’s Picks every Monday.

All the best for success in 2017!

Educate every employee on customer-centricity

Business leaders should resolve in 2017 to either start, or to continue, educating every employee – from the CEO to the front line – in the principles, tools and methodologies that can and will embed a customer centric culture. My column will continue to focus on describing how best to do this, based on my seven tips to create a customer centric culture.

— Ian Golding, Founder, Customer Experience Consultancy Ltd

Build a stakeholder-centric culture with supporting processes

Help organizations design and leverage experiences that more effectively integrate employee behavior with customer decision-making. Overarching connected goal: Build a true stakeholder-centric culture, create more positive and strategically differentiated product/service benefit proposition, and optimize set of value delivery processes.

— Michael Lowenstein, Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy, and author of Customers Inside, Customers Outside

Create more value for your customers than your competition

While doing this also create value for your employees, business partners (supply and delivery chain) and society, and watch your profits soar. Remain aware, agile, and ambidextrous and have the winning attitude in these changing times to remain ahead and be ready for disruption, or create disruption. Your stakeholder focus will make you a winner.

— Gautam Mahajan, President, Customer Value Foundation and author of Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking

Center your business on customers

Customer-centered business means your personal conviction is that customers’ well-being is the pathway to growth in meeting the needs of every stakeholder. This puts the horse before the cart: feed the hand that feeds you and you will be fed. How do you know when your business is successfully customer-centered? When customers’ realities are the context for everything everyone does.

— Lynn Hunsaker, Founder, ClearAction

Hear what your customers are not saying, and not doing

To deliver a compelling experience, figure out what your customers are saying and what they are doing but also what they are not saying, and what they are not doing. The key is using “Big Data” analytics to sort through the myriad of your data sources, including ones that your business partners and competitors can yield.

— Bill Price, Partner, Antuit, and co-author of Your Customer Rules!

Make the customer experience a differentiator

Business leaders should find fresh new ways to make the customer experience (CX) a business differentiator through creativity, discipline and knowledge. Lead by supporting CX, expecting ROI for the short- and mid-term projects, and employing organizational patience for the strategic endeavors.

— Nancy Porte, Vice President of Global Customer Experience, Verint

Connect with customers at a human and genuine level

Customers are not “cohorts”, they are individuals. Per our VoC research, marketers must shift to Human Data driven personalization which is based on explicit, self-profiled opt-in preference data. Human Data, (B2B or B2C), enables customers to identify their individual issues, needs, and expectations. It allows them to tell the marketer their messaging, media and frequency preferences.

— Ernan Roman, President, ERDM Corp., and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing

Implement lead-to-revenue strategies and tactics

B2B leaders should refine and implement the powerful Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) strategies and tactics that will deliver strong revenue growth, as well as much greater levels of marketing and sales effectiveness. In the year ahead, I encourage all sales and marketing teams to seek knowledge from industry experts, challenge existing business models and attain optimum performance.

— Chris Ryan, CEO, Fusion Marketing Partners, and author of Winning B2B Marketing

Don’t try to do CX all by yourself

Instead, make sure to include unusual CX suspects from HR, Finance, Legal, Procurement, etc. If you haven’t already, make room at the table for these groups and find out how you can re-energize, grow and sustain not just a program or initiative, but a CX culture that sticks. Some added bonuses? More and better ideas. More innovation. More time to think (and to breathe!).

— Krista Sheridan, People & Culture: Development & Learning, TELUS

Figure out the “jobs” your customers want done

Reject the notion that customers don’t know what they want. They may not know what solutions they want but they certainly know what metrics they use to measure success when getting a “job” done. Embrace Jobs Theory and Outcome-Driven Innovation.

— Tony Ulwick, Founder, Strategyn, and author of Jobs To Be Done: Theory to Practice

Use artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience

2017 touts the rise of artificial intelligence and many half expect it to infiltrate customer service as we know it. The challenge for customer service and contact center leaders will be to sift through a variety of vendors and solutions to find the true gems that drive efficiency, save money, and enhance, not sacrifice the customer experience.

— Jeremy Watkin, the Head of Quality, FCR

Get a competitive advantage with machine learning

2016 was the year of the rise of machine learning, NLP, and bots. The fast improvements of these technologies, based in the cloud, offer unprecedented opportunity to improve customer experience at scale, when used strategically and in conjunction with existing systems. This year, forward-looking businesses can get competitive advantage implementing them, thinking big and acting small, thus continuously delivering value to their customers while staying nimble.

— Thomas Wieberneit, Founder, aheadCRM/Epikonic

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4 Responses to 13 Ways to Turn Customer-Centric Theory into Practice

  1. Christopher Ryan January 13, 2017 at 8:59 am (84 comments) #

    Thirteen excellent suggestions on customer experience (CX), sales and marketing to help companies have a great 2017.

  2. Christian Gatlin January 13, 2017 at 11:33 am (3 comments) #

    Hey Bob,

    Great post. This is definitely a simple and easy way marketers can make their businesses more customer-focused. One of the most important aspects is to educate employees on the importance of listening to the customer- it creates a domino effect of keeping the primary focus on customers. Thanks!

  3. Thomas Wieberneit January 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm (226 comments) #

    Christian, it is not only about marketing. Being customer centric as a means to enhance customer experience and the value customers create using a company’s services and products includes the whole life cycle, including service. But your observation is right. It is important to listen – and then to act on the learnings derived from the listening.

    Thomas
    @twieberneit

  4. Michael Lowenstein January 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm (1272 comments) #

    Christian –

    Agree that it is important for employees to listen (and be empathetic) to customers. However, it is also critical, culturally and operationally, that people be hired, trained, empowered, and enabled, as well as rewarded and recognized, to proactively deliver value to customers (and fellow employees). That is the essence of stakeholder-centricity and employee ambassadorship across the enterprise.

    Michael Lowenstein

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