Summer is a great time to reflect on the progress we have made to date on our plans, be they personal or professional. Having finally completed the “nth” revision of my latest book –the formatting not the content! – it was the perfect occasion for me to review what I wanted to achieve in the coming six months.
This got me thinking about how organisations too need to take a step back and review how their plans are going and what changes need to be made to ensure their completion over the remaining six months of the year. So here are my ten ways to tell if you are well on your way to becoming truly customer centric – and what actions you can still take to go further along your journey.
#1. Identify the category in which you are competing
This may sound strange to you, but many brands are not competing in the category in which they first thought they were. Think soup which is now a meal replacement, or laptops which are now entertainment platforms.
Action: Review how your product or service fits into the customers’ daily life and how they compare and decide between options. This will help you identify your real competitors and the actual category in which you are competing.
#2. Understand your primary target
Knowing precisely who the customer is for each of your brands is the first essential step to satisfying them. Use the BCG Matrix to help select the best group. Do you already work with this matrix, or do you have a better system? Please share your own best practice below, so I can learn.
Action: Review the target audience for each of your brands and ensure you have information on their +4Ws” – Who, What, Where and Why: demographics, purchase, usage, media use, places of purchase, consumption, connections to communications, their values, usage motivations and emotions when doing so.
#3. Watch and listen to your customers
Personal experience of your customers is essential to putting them at the heart of your business.
Action: Ensure everyone has regular – ideally monthly – contact with the customer, whether by listening in at the call centre, watching market research interviews & discussions, or observing customers as they shops and use your product / service.
#4. Know what current trends could mean for your business
Many organisations follow trends, but they don’t provide any competitive advantage unless they are turned into future scenarios.
Action: Identify the most relevant trends for your brand and then project them into the future to develop two axes of uncertainty and four plausible future worlds. These will help prepare the business for future opportunities and challenges.
#5. Reinvent your innovation
Most organisations innovate based upon their current knowledge or technical skills. This keeps them boxed into a narrow band of categories.
Action: Take your NPD thinking outside its box, by making use of all relevant innovation levers, including, but not limited to, packaging, channels, sourcing, communications, branding, services.
#6. Follow your image
It is amazing how many companies don’t follow their brand images on a regular basis. Image trends are a great way to be alerted to possible sales issues before they appear in the numbers.
Action: Identify the major image attributes of both your own and competitor brands, and measure them regularly (annually for fast moving categories, every two to three years for slower moving ones).
#7. Turn your information into insight
Whilst information and knowledge are essential to gather, it is only when they are turned into understanding and insight that they become truly customer centric.
Action: Review your insight development process and ensure decisions about customer satisfaction are based on them and not just on information. Insights ensure your communications resonate with your customers and your product / service delights and sometime surprises them.
#8. Share your information and insights
Companies spend a lot of money gathering data and information about the market and customers. However, in most cases they spend far too much money, because the information that is needed is actually already available somewhere in the company.
Action: Review your organisation’s information needs and negotiate contracts and access company-wide rather than by department. Make your information and insights available to everyone in the company through a library or database with appropriately managed access rights.
#9. Evaluate your progress
As the infamous quote from Peter Drucker says “What gets measured gets managed”. Besides brand image, are you following other KPIs to measure your progress on your journey to customer centricity?
Action: Identify the three to five most important areas you want to improve and then measure them consistently. If the numbers aren’t trending up, act – see #10. below. The actual metrics you follow will depend upon your industry, but may include market comparison (shares), availability (distribution or out-of-stock) communications impact, competitivity, value.
#10. Plan for action
Once you have identified the KPIs to follow, you need to take action to improve those that are trending downwards and perhaps also those which are stable.
Action: Since your KPIs are the most important metrics for your business, plan actions as soon as their trend changes and don’t wait.
These ten steps should ensure your organisation remains focussed on the customer and doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day issues of the business. After all, as I have been quoted many times for saying:
“There may be customers without brands, but there are no brands without customers”
Think about it; do you have the right priorities? How do you know? Have I missed an essential step off of my list above? If so, let me know. Please also share which of your actions towards customer centricity you are struggling with the most. Together we’ll find a solution.
If you would like to know how customer centric your organisation really is, then why not complete the C3C Evaluator? Check it out on our website: http://www.c3centricity.com/evaluator
Need help on your journey to customer centricity? Let us help you catalyze your business; contact us here