Notes on Successfully Moving to Customer-Centricity (from Customers Inside, Customers Outside)


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Many companies are actively product-centric. They believe that strategic advantage is based on the product and the expertise behind the product. The organizational structure (divisions, groups, and teams) are set up around products and projects, employees are rewarded based on their ability to sell existing products or create new products, and brand equity is seen as having greater value than the customer. In these companies, all customers are often treated the same, irrespective of current or potential value to the enterprise. There are, however, cracks in this concept, due principally to globalization, speed of new technologies, deregulation, and the rising power of consumers (to get what they want, when they want it, and from whomever they select to provide it). Product centricity can put these organizations at risk relative to companies that are customer-centric, or which effectively blend customer-centricity with product-centricity.

Customer centricity is a strategy to fundamentally align a company’s products and services with the wants and needs of its best customers and those which can readily be bootstrapped (through research segmentation tools such as advocacy level) to become more financially attractive. It is about identifying the most valuable customers and then doing everything possible to bring their (positive and negative) ideas into the center of the enterprise, create value for them, generate revenue from them, and to find more customers like them. That strategy has a specific business outcome goal: more profits for the long term. This objective is one that every enterprise would like to achieve; and, it can be attained if an organization is willing to move past outdated ideas about customer-company relations and rethink organizational culture, processes, and value.

Building and sustaining a customer-centric culture is core to successful enterprise performance. However, once the basic architectural and engineering components are functional – or, in concert with their functionality – organizations must make certain that their strategy and tactics for optimizing customer experience, and downstream behavior, are both contemporary and effective. This includes elements of branding, messaging and communication, and maintaining strong, proactive value-based relationships, as well as optimizing employee behavior.

For companies seeking to build trust and optimize customer experience delivery, they need not only a customer-centric culture, but also the strategy and tactics for building an emotionally-based, inclusive framework. Ideally, multiple elements of branding, communications and connection will come together to make this happen:

– Content – particularly video, which has grown in effectiveness and pervasiveness – which is relevant, informative, and objective and available via multiple channels. Customers need to feel, and believe, that any information they are provided, and through whatever self-directed source, has personal benefit.

– Messaging produced by the organization must be consistent with content, seamlessly aligning with online and offline informal communication; and it should be recognized that decision-making is a) controlled by the customer and b) likely to be influenced by both offline and online content and messaging

Sustaining trust, a foundation of customer centricity, takes time and effort; and organizations need to recognize that the ‘bank account’ of empathy, image and reputation so carefully grown with customers can be wiped away virtually overnight. Creating long-term customer loyalty and outstanding, memorable customer experience means thinking about the consumer in strategic relationship, rather than transactional, terms. This means that emotional drivers, sincerity, objectivity, and integrity, must come from inside the enterprise, including employee behavior and flexible processes. To build bonding behavior, many organizations have created branded elements of the experience into their product/service value delivery; and, combined with the benefits of an endearing, customer-centric culture, they have gained the strategic financial rewards of true customer loyalty.

Material has been drawn from my new ebook/soft cover book, Customers Inside, Customers Outside:

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.