Customer Centric Approach for Excellence

Customer Centric Approach for Excellence

A customer centric organization is that which reorients its entire operations around the customer, increasing customer satisfaction and its own profitability in the process. It understands not only the customer values, but also the value the customer represents for its bottom line. The organization aligns its operations behind a carefully defined and quantified customer based strategy and carries out such activities like product development, demand generation, production and scheduling, supply chain, customer care, etc. to deliver greater value to the customers at lower cost.

Customer centric approach of the organization is not only offering to the customers good service but also helps in the development the organizational strategy based on putting the customer first at the core of its operations consisting of the entire value chain. By putting the customer at the core of its operation, the organization collects large amount of data which give it a full 360 view of the customer. These data are then used to enhance the customer experience and add value for its customers on a consistent basis. The data help the organization to mould all its processes and activities for understanding customers, anticipating and fulfilling their needs, meeting their expectations, and utilization of the available opportunities.

In the present day competitive environment, customer centric approach is not only what is desired but also it is an essential approach to achieve success. However following of a customer centric approach is not an easy task for the management of the organization, since it calls for redesigning the organization to put customers at the centre of every decision. This can be a challenging task, especially if the organization is product oriented, highly diversified and change resistant. But with determination and commitment, customer centric approach can be implemented successfully by the organizational management with the adoption of the right program, proper tools and correct implementation methodology.

Customer centric approach in its simplest sense means making the life of every employee in the organization easy through the designing of the processes that are focused on delivering a positive experience to the customers. This approach also makes it extremely easy for the customers to learn about the organization, purchase their requirements from the organization and to get support from the organization. Customer centric organization keeps the customer at the center of its focus so as to ensure that the customers always get a positive experience from the organization. Receiving consistent positive experiences makes the customers not only loyal and they are also prompted to spread their positive experience about the organization to others.

For the organization to become customer centric, It has to design and manage its processes and systems to enable it to understand, monitor and assess the needs and opinion of the customers. It has to create in the organization a customer centric culture which relates to the brand which the organization represents and its consistence delivery to its customers. This approach does not mean doing everything what the customers want but it means focusing on what the customer values most, in line with the overall organizational strategy and brand promise.

The organizations having customer centric approach invests a substantial amount of time and energy for understanding the requirements of its customers and establishing processes which deliver within the agreed parameters of time, quality and cost those products and services that customers want.

The organization believing in customer centric approach learns about the impact of customer patronage on its operating results. It learns  skills of asking the right questions and collecting the right sort of information from its customers and their internal processes. This in turn makes the organization understand the range of success drivers that influence a customer’s choice of suppliers, the more likely it is to measure relevant areas of the relationship with the customer, producing results that reflect an accurate and complete picture of the nature of the relationship – past, present and future. Customer centric organizations use these results as the basis for reviewing strategy, improving processes and producing new products and services.

Customer centric organizations value and respect internal customers as much as they respect the external customers. By the adoption of the customer centric approach within the organization, the organization follows a highly effective route to sustainable, higher margin performance and competitive advantage.

The following six concepts are normally considered essential for a customer centric organization.

  • Customer life cycle view – It helps the customer centric organization to understand the customer from a wider angle. It takes the organization away from the product related marketing and move it deeper in understanding the working of the customer and his organization. This understanding helps the organization to develop a holistic and continuous view of the customer’s evolving life cycle needs as the customer moves forward in his business to keep ahead of his competitors. Through customer life cycle view the organization can make changes in its processes in time to provide tailor made products and solutions to meet the distinct changing preferences of the customer.
  • Solution mindset – An organization becomes customer centric when it changes its mind set from selling products to solving problems. For the organization solutions replace products as the basic element of the customer value proposition. This concept makes the organization migrate from selling ‘off the shelf’ products to customizing solutions. The organization with solution mind set design a suite of modular product bundles which when coupled with an advisory relationship delivers a cost effective tailored solution to the customer specific problem. With this concept the organization often work along with its competitors for fulfilling customer’s needs.
  • Advice packaging – With the purpose of developing customer intuition and offering advice that is relevant, customer centric organization enters into a continuing dialogue with its customers. These dialogues start much before any transaction is made with the customers and continue long after the sale deals are over. This helps the organization to penetrate in the market in a much better way when compared with its competitors.
  • Customer interface – For obtaining customer intelligence and to get insight of the customer, normally the first line marketing personnel are the best people who are suited for such interactions hence they are to be armed with skills and authority to stitch solutions at the point of contact. Further the activity marketing persons should not be downgraded as only order taking. At the same time it is not possible to sort out all the issues at this point of contact. Hence the customer centric organization follows multi channel approach for this purpose with the key customers. These additional channels besides supporting the front line marketing personnel also interact with the customers directly to offer solutions to their problems.
  • Realignment of business processes- Some organizations find it difficult to adopt the customer centric approach because of organizational complexity in their organizations make this effort a costly affair. Such organizations have to reorganize their business processes instead of working around earlier processes. Adding on or modifying an earlier process can be a costly affair. Cost effective solution can be achieved by complete overhauling earlier processes or getting implemented totally a new process in place of an earlier one.
  • Collective and cross functional operation – Customer centric organization needs a new culture in the organization for carrying solutions to the customers. This new culture calls for co operation and collective functioning through cross functional teams. Further employees at all the levels whether they are interacting with the customers or not, are required to understand customer’s needs. Key financial and operating metrics are to change to suit the requirements of the customers. The organization has to undergo  a full scale change management program, one that motivates participants at a basic human level to invest in a customer centric future.

The above concepts are given in Fig 1.

Customer centric approach

Fig 1 Concepts for customer centric approach

 The organization with a customer centric approach needs to have the following qualities.

  • The organization has a clear vision which is customer oriented and having support from top to bottom in the organization.
  • The decisions in the organization are made which are aligned to this customer oriented vision.
  • The organization is aware of the customer’s expectations and requirements since it is continuously interacting with the customers.
  • The organization tailors its products and services to meet the needs of its customers.
  • The organization meets the customer’s expectations with every interaction
  • Through customer satisfaction surveys the organization regularly measure the customer satisfaction level and makes adjustments to its processes based on the feed backs provided by the surveys.
  • Communicate across the organization the findings of the customer satisfaction surveys.
  • Undertakes training for orientation of employees behaviour towards satisfying the customers
  • The organization measures and rewards customer centric competencies and performance.

The challenge which is usually faced by the customer centric organization is to decide on a relevant set of perception measures. There are two main considerations namely (i)  to ensure that the process of perception measurement provides information on the various activities undertaken by the organization in its pursuit of fulfilling customer requirements, and (ii) the importance and priority attached to the measures by its customer. The measurement system is of little value if it does not deliver relevant data which helps the organization to focus on the improvement actions.

These measures are the internal measures by the organization in order to monitor, understand, predict and improve the performance of the organization and to predict perceptions of its external customers. The customer centric organization relies on lead indicators which provide data on its operations that help to predict the response of customers well in advance. Customer centric organization does not make the mistake of relying only on the feedback majority of the customers since ignoring an important feedback from a minority customer can result into not making the changes in the strategy which are necessary for the organization success in the future. Other important aspect is that the customer centric organization takes the customer feedback on its entire range of the products and does not limit it only for the popular group of products. Further the organization would be misguided if it limit its perception measures to certain geographical locations or a few functions within the organization.

An organization normally have three types of customers. They are (i) delighted customers, (ii) satisfied customers, and (iii) dissatisfied customers. Delighted customers speaks high of the organization in the market which helps in bringing new customers to the organization. Satisfied customers are somewhat neutral and they are with the organization till there need is there. Dissatisfied customers are detractors and they speak against the organization in the market and scares away the potential future customers. A customer centric approach helps the organization to shift the dissatisfied customers into the categories of satisfied or delighted customers.

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