Customer Centricity – How To Move From Talk To Action


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We all know the old idiom: “Talk is cheap.” It is easier to say you will do something than to actually do it. This same applies to Customer Centricity also. Leaders talk about importance of Customer Centricity and Experiences, but then when it is time to put the resources to support that talk, very little happens. So, what do we need to move Customer Centricity from talk to action in any organisation?

Actually, the answer has less to do with a specific Customer Experience Management framework or software and more to do with an outcome-focused mindset, organisational culture and orientation that fosters customer understanding. The key is to be able to synthesise and articulate key insights to decision-makers to have the customer more visible during business decisions. At the end of the day, revenue is what everyone are after. And what is the source of revenue? That’s right, customers. By companies being more sensitive and emphatic towards their customers, it will motivate the customers to spend more money with the company. This applies in public sector too, but from a bit different perspective. The question there is, how can we produce more great quality services with the fixed budget we have available. In short, the mindset and organisational culture should become more outcome-focused and outcome-oriented.

Here’s a personal story from the VP of Consulting at Forrester Research of a company having an epic failure doing this:

“I recently had a problem with a space heater that short-circuited, emitting smoke and toxic fumes. I did some online research, looking for any recall information, and found a YouTube video posted by another customer 2 years earlier whose product caught fire. He had contacted the manufacturer and gotten nowhere. I contacted the manufacturer’s customer service dept and gave them the details of my malfunctioning product. They claimed no knowledge of any reported product defects. I asked if they had seen the YouTube video (which I forwarded to them). They told me that their corporate IT policy blocks YouTube access.” Source:

This story is a great example of company lacking outcome based focus on the customers. Instead of denying a clearly existing problem with the product, the company should take a proactive approach and sort this out for its customers. How likely do you think any customer is to buy another space heater from that company after all this? This story also highlights how short-sighted companies many times are. They think it is better to have a one quick sale in the pocket rather than a long-term, prosperous customer relationship. Well, they are wrong. Big time.

This concludes our first step in moving Customer Centricity from talk to action. You need to create a clear outcome-focused, customer-centric mindset in the company. The culture in the company needs to live and breath successful customer outcomes. This requires the right people in the organisation. Some are just not cut out for thinking about customers, however I believe that is a very small percentage of the workforce. Rest are just used to doing the same old things from inside-out, organisation-centric perspective. You have to change that!

Second key pillar in taking action is to have courage to change. Like Einstein used to say, you can’t keep on doing the same old things and expect different results. To change the mindset and the culture of a company, you have to take better actions. And that is possible in any company, regardless of industry. Let’s hear a real-world example from a Home-mom at Cuffley, Hertfordshire (U.K.)

“I bought a shirt from Next (a clothing retailer chain in U.K.) several weeks ago. And as you can imagine, the receipt for that purchase was lost during the weeks of thinking about returning the shirt instead of actually returning it (do see the irony here?). So I went to Next and Enfield Town and asked whether I could return it without the receipt that I had lost. They said it is not a problem and found the transaction using my debit card. Then they refunded me and it was all over and done in less than 5 minutes.”

This story highlights different kind of mindset and culture compared to our first example. In most of the stores you will not get a refund from your purchase if you do not have the original receipt with you. For Next, Customer Experience and a Successful Customer Outcome are more important than traditional retail industry’s ways of operating. That if something takes courage from their side.

These two case stories take us nice to the third key aspect of moving from just talking about Customer Centricity to genuine action with it. I know I said earlier that it is not about frameworks or software, but still you need right right tools, methods and strategies in place to be able to make those remarkable customer experiences repeatable. When you have a combination of right mindset, culture and courage to change enabled by the right tools to produce real Customer Centric actions, you will see remarkable results.

If a company fails in customer-focused mindset, outcome-based culture or having courage to change to better, it will certainly perish. It will also perish if those are not supported by right kind of productive actions that create remarkable customer experiences in a consistent way. Such companies which are able to combine all these capabilities together will become truly customer-centric and in return customers will cherish them with high revenues.

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Janne Ohtonen blog

Janne Ohtonen, Ph.D.
Dr Janne Ohtonen, Director of Customer Experience Management, has dedicated his life to making this world a better place to all customers. He fights against bad customer experiences, ensuring that companies serving their customers are not only profitable but also enjoyable to do business with for a long time.


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