Top companies are those that revolve their business models around their customers. Those that not only consider their customers in the design and marketing of their products, but involve them throughout their products’ development and introduction into the marketplace are the companies that lead their competitors.
But you know that talking about being customer centric and being customer centric are two different things. Changing your corporate culture can be a daunting and complicated process. Some of the top barriers to becoming a successful customer-centric organization include getting buy-in at all levels, linking your metrics to KPIs and ROI, and creating a customer-centric culture from the inside out. Again, haven’t we been talking about this for two decades?
The reality is that changing your internal processes is hard. People get comfortable, rigid and risk averse; especially the higher up you go on the corporate food chain. So, changing how you’re going to go about your day-to-day can be an uphill battle with strong pushback. Each team within the company is affected by a process change and their buy-in is inherent to the future success of a new customer culture. Leadership comes from the top down, so without C-suite support, a new corporate culture cannot exist, much less thrive. Does your company too quickly revert back to their product-thinking approach after not seeing immediate results? Customer centricity is a long-term initiative based on customer loyalty and retention and in order to make any progress, strong buy-in at all levels is required to push through the transitional periods.
When making any changes, measure what you’re doing to determine if you’re meeting your intended goals. You know this, but it may not be part of your normal thought process. Most of your management effort can be quantified, not only the large projects or implementations but the day-to-day initiatives. What are you spending? What are you making? What is your return? Is all this hair pulling worth it? Ensure that each department is approaching quantification with the same method and are taking accountability for customer experience. Does your culture enable silos that undermine the existence of a true customer-centric culture? If your company, or parts within, struggles to validate the impact of the customer experience because they don’t know what they should be measuring, it is likely that movement along the evolution continuum will cease and the organization will find status quo with familiar product-centric measurements.
Do you agree that most people fear change? It’s too easy to be cemented in the way things have always been done thinking that it’s the best and only way. Remember this when you are seemingly turning the corporate culture on its head to better serve your customers. Focus on communication about your method and your goals to avoid breeding an environment of mistrust and confusion (because it’s change). If you communicate where you are going, why it’s important, and quantitatively demonstrate the direct and indirect cost benefit of management’s initiatives, your culture can become what we know it can after decades of talking about it.
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