“Customer-Centric” isn’t a new noun in the businessman’s dictionary; it’s actually the verb that the early settlers built their businesses on.
Imagine the year 1849. You walk into the General Store and the owner, John, looks up, and says, “Hey, Joe, how’s the missus? Is she ready for the extra sugar for her blackberry preserves? You know; she promised me a jar. Is five pounds enough? I know your mare’s nearing her foaling date; bet the young-ins are excited. Do you need anything for her? Ok, then, I’ve got your regular order boxed and I tucked in some penny candy for the boys. I’ll put it on your account and help you carry the boxes out to the wagon.” That’s “customer-centric” in action.
Ask most any business these days if they put their customers first and most will tell you that they do. In truth, most are running on intention. Part of the problem is that it’s hard to estimate the amount of income that can be generated by such things as customer service improvements; customer-friendly packaging and staying in touch after the sale. It is a risk no matter how you look at it. Risk the change or risk failing for not.
Be Customer-Centric in Thought and Deed
- Plant the attitude. Make the mission to become Customer-Centric a company-wide training and discussion. Higher management must lead by example.
- Connect all departments with communication. Customers want answers fast.
- Empower your employees to make on-the-spot decisions for your customers. Give them the training, confidence and authority to put the customer first.
- Give your employees a personal stake in the customer satisfaction process. Reward them for getting it right.
- Make Customer-Centric a core value in your company. Hire people who understand it; who will live it.
- Trade control for co-creation. Listen to your customers and implement their suggestions to improve such things as customer support.
- Find ways to make your product more user-friendly. Think about packaging; sizing and where you put handles. Is your product easy to open? Heinz has an upside-down Ketch-up bottle; milk bottles have handles that cartons didn’t, and there are now squeeze handles on scissors…
“I think the success around any product is really about subtle insights. You need a great product and a bigger vision to execute it against, but it’s really those small things that make the big difference.” Chad Hurley