What Is Customer-Centric Service?


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In June 2007, in Aptos, California, 16 of CustomerThink’s global advisors gathered for our annual Retreat. Each year we get together to discuss the top industry issues, how we can collaborate with each other and how to add value to this wonderful community.

In one exercise, the advisors broke up into groups, based on their field of expertise, to define how leaders viewed customer-centricity, based on their job function.

Here’s an outline of how one advisor group at the Retreat defined customer-centric business, from the chief service officer’s perspective.

Chief Service Officer


A customer-centric customer service organization empowers and enables its people to remedy customers’ issues, identifies and fixes the root cause, adds to the company’s knowledge pool and, if appropriate, increases value to and from the customer.


Provide channels to access customer service in the most appropriate manner
Meet customer requirements as they are changing
Define chain of command for customers to escalate
Provide techniques and frameworks to be flexible and solve problems: TRAINING
Provide incentive structure to go above and beyond baseline
Structure organization to enable self-managed team
Ensure employees are customers to create community of users outside of company
Learn best practices from superlative agents and propogate/train–>share with organization
Provide training to be embedded in culture and behavior


Balanced Outputs:

Operational/productivity measures
Customer (internal, external) evaluations

Improvements —>
—————————-> knowledge pools

This is just a draft, open for discussion in our community.

What’s your take on what customer-centric customer service is, including the activities and measurements needed to be successful?

Please add your thoughts below, and together we’ll make this a meaningful and useful definition for business leaders.


Bob Thompson
CustomerThink Founder

Jay Curry
July 28, 2007
Customer Centric Service

The key point is empowering and respecting “service people” who are often treated like modern-day slaves.

Michael Lowenstein
July 30, 2007
Customer Centric Service

Centricity can be seen virtually everywhere a company is endeavoring to influence customer behavior – structure, strategy, messaging, and perceived value of products and services to name a few. But, I think that customer centric service is driven, especially, by employees.

Customer centric experience creation, especially in service and support delivery, must relate and link employee perceptions and actions to company objectives, most particularly regarding customer behaviors on behalf of the company. This represents the new reality of optimizing employee productivity, namely connecting to the organization, the brand and product promise, and focusing on delivering value to customers; and it addresses the direct and indirect behavioral linkages between these stakeholder groups.

Making the experience for customers attractive at each place where the company interacts with them requires an in-depth understanding of both customer needs and how what the company currently does achieves that goal, particularly through employee attitudes and predispositions to act. Principally, it requires that companies understand, and leverage, the impact employees have on customer behavior – – how the way they are selected, trained, rewarded, recognized, supported, and guided links to customer actions. We call this employee ambassadorship.

Graham Hill
July 30, 2007
What is Customer Service?

The list of activities of the Chief Service Officer (groan, not another Chief XYZ Officer) reads like a list of functional requirements for technical customer service. It is alright as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. There’s nothing there about the ethos of serving customers.

Work on market and customer-orientation in the early 90s showed clearly that serving customers was as much a mentality as it was a list of technical service capabilities.

Perhaps the omission of the human side of customer service is a sign of the times.


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