Monday, 17 June 2013

Customer Centric - Marketing spin or good business practice?


Putting the Customer at our heart or Customer Centricity
We hear these terms a lot these days but what do they actually mean and why exactly is it so important?
I’ve sought here to explain and provide some definitions that may help along with a couple of examples.

Deeply understanding your customer and truly putting them as a focus of what you do starts with fully immersing yourself into their world and experience as it relates to your product or service.

There are a couple of key terms that relate to this:

1.       Customer immersion is a process whereby people in organisations can experience their business from a customer point of view.

2.       Customer experiences: The activity you undertake to immerse yourself. These can take many forms and varies depending on the company and this is referred to as ‘Customer experience’.

A customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind.

Importantly:

·         A customer experience is not just about a rational experience (e.g. how quickly a phone is answered, what hours you’re open, delivery time scales, etc.).

·         Did you know more than 50 per cent of a customer experience is subconscious, or how a customer feels.

·         A customer experience is not just about the ‘what,’ but also about the ‘how.’

·         A customer experience is about how a customer consciously and subconsciously sees his or her entire experience.

To do this effectively you need to ‘walk a mile in the customers shoes’, experience your product or service from their perspective rather than your own perceived perspective. Making it as real as possible is key.



Why immerse yourself?

The better your organization understands the complexity of the relationship you have with your customers the better equipped you are with the knowledge to help drive for growth. When this knowledge is addressed effectively - You ‘do something’ as a result of the knowledge, customer experience improves, and customer loyalty increases.



The more you act on the knowledge you learn from these customer immersion activities the more you are actively demonstrating a customer centric approach. Many companies talk about being customer centric and maybe have really good intentions but few in my experience actually act as a result of those good intentions. It leaves the customer feeling like it’s all spin.


Cisco IBSG Consulting Tip: Walk in Your Customer's Shoes

Customer immersion stories

Some company’s senior managers are encouraged to spend time on a regular basis to live the customer experience see this video of how it was done in Adobe who have created the customer listening post.


 In one supermarket here in Ireland store managers are not provided with an office but are expected to spend the majority of their time circulating the store, talking to customers and experiencing what the customer experiences. This particular supermarket is simply excellent as store design, customer service and create a great experience for both staff and shoppers alike. You can really feel they get what the customer needs and wants both rationally and emotionally.

In some stores Managers actually hold meetings with staff whilst walking around the store, and at Credit Suisse, executives have in the past been asked to spend a day in a wheelchair so as to better understand the experience of disabled customers.  Both of these approaches attempt to remove the stigma - often attached to senior managers - that they are ‘out of touch with consumers’.
So finally if it’s your responsibility to ‘Drive customer centricity@ start by watching this video and read the book that’s mentioned!