So many articles are written on customer-centric processes and training. Very few talk about changing the mind-set.
The customer-centric or Customeric mind-set starts at the top of an organisation and has to be built at all levels of the company. The starting point is a customer strategy that makes all departments partners in delivering customer value and understanding their role on the delivery of value. Part of the mind-set is that companies are humans (they are made up of humans and not inanimate provider of products and processes).
We have found that the mind-set change is an ongoing mission, and is a self-learning, self-directing task. More than 10 years ago we suggested to companies to start Customer-centric circles. They exist in many companies. In fact Tata Crop Nutrition had 18 customer circles in one state of India alone!
What are these Customer-Centric circles?
1. They consist of front line people along with some staff people like HRD, IT, Sales and marketing, finance.
2. The idea is to build the self-esteem, awareness, and pro-activeness of employees toward the customer and incorporate a Continuous Customer Improvement Program
3. The Circles examine what is being done for customers, things that went wrong, and best practices for making the customer happy. The front line people suggest what they should and could do to improve the value to the customer
4. The circles build the Customers’ Bill of Rights and work on a Circle of Promises to ensure the rights are recognised and protected, weeding out promises that cannot be kept, and re-enforcing those that can be met
5. The circles meet every 4 to six weeks to examine progress, where the company has failed customers and corrective action, including systemic changes in processes
The end result of these circles is improvement in Customer Value Added, loyalty and market share and profits. Complaints have reduced, efficiency has increased, unnecessary customer journeys eliminated.