Five More (of Ten) Foundational Principles of a Customer-Centric Organization

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In last week’s post I shared that, in order to get your entire organization thinking differently, you’ve got to first know and embrace the principles and the practices of customer-centricity, and you’ve got to ensure that everyone remains aligned to achieve the desired outcomes of designing such an organization.

In that post, I outlined the first five of the ten principles of customer-centricity that I wrote about in my latest book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value For Your Business. Here are the other five.

Principle 6: People before metrics. I often cite Bain’s delivery gap and, importantly, the reasons for that gap when I offer up this principle. When companies have a disproportionate focus on growth, i.e., acquisition over retention, then they are focused on metrics to satisfy analysts and shareholders. And when companies focus on moving the needle on their customer metrics, e.g., NPS or CSAT, they do things differently and do different things than when they focus on the people and doing what’s right for them (resulting in a moved needle).

You must shift the balance to focus more on doing what it takes to retain customers. That means focusing on the customer experience. The metrics will come.

Principle 7: Customer understanding is the cornerstone. Customer-centric companies know that customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer-centricity. You cannot bring the customer and her voice into the business if you don’t take the time to listen to her, get to know her better, and understand her pain points, problems to solve, and jobs to be done.

You can achieve customer understanding in three ways: listening (feedback and data), characterizing (research-based personas), and empathizing (journey mapping with customers).

Principle 8: Governance bridges organizational gaps. Governance has two parts: (1) The structure: It’s all about the governing body but also about establishing policies, monitoring, and enhancing the prosperity of the organization. This part covers both oversight and execution, as well as driving accountability throughout the organization by creating committees and assigning specific tasks and responsibilities to those committees. (2) The operating model: It’s also an operating model that drives execution of the customer experience vision to strategy through data democratization, socializing and operationalizing insights to action, prioritizing improvement initiatives, developing new business processes, defining success metrics, outlining the decision making process, defining the communication plan, and more.

The two parts work together to ensure that the organization works together toward a common cause, goal, and/or outcome. Governance bridges the gap between departments. It helps to break down and connect silos. It’s also the best source of that grassroots groundswell to get everyone involved.

Principle 9: Outside-in thinking and doing vs. inside-out thinking and doing are core. Customer-centric leaders must acknowledge, accept, and advocate for bringing the customer voice into all they do. That’s outside-in thinking and doing. When leaders use inside-out thinking and doing, they believe they know what’s best for customers and act on their ideas and thoughts rather than on customer feedback and input. This is the antithesis of customer-centricity!

Remove the phrase “we think customers…” from your corporate vocabulary and replace it with “we know customers…” … because you actually know customers! You’ve done the work.

Principle 10: Forget the Golden Rule. You might be shocked to read that statement, but the Golden Rule is also the antithesis of customer-centricity. It states: treat others the way you want to be treated. That’s inside-out thinking and doing; that says that you assume to know how others want to be treated, i.e., like you.

Instead, shift the behaviors and use the Platinum Rule(R): treat others the way they want to be treated. Again, you can do this because you’ve done the work to understand your customers.

That’s it. That’s all ten.

How are companies doing? Well, take a look at this quick video (to the right), in which I showcase the ten principles and a few of the brand examples that I wrote about for each principle in the book. (Enlarge for a better view.)

Then take a moment to asses your own culture!

Fix the culture, fix the outcomes.

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