Written by Joel Nicholson, Marketsoft
- It is hard and therefore you will be uniquely more valuable – up until 2012, international thought leader on customer centricity, Peter Fader (@faderp), couldn’t name a single organization that was the gold standard or shining beacon of Customer Centricity (CC). Today, only a few organisations like pharmaceutical giant Merck and video game leader Electronic Arts can be considered good examples of customer centricity. We estimate 95% of companies are mostly still taking on a product centric mantra.
- Create a more connected society – at the core of CC, it is about understanding customers and driving decisions based on this wider collective of customer feedback and behaviours. By directly and indirectly collaborating more minds to solve our challenges, we end up with a more interconnected outcome for our communities.
- Create a job for life – As technology advancement commoditises product efficiency advantages, and globalisation disrupts product monopolisation, the only sustainable competitive advantage left are in customer relationships. CC is at the heart of this sustainable future. Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE, says “There are only 2 sources of competitive advantage. The first one being learn more about your customers faster than you competition. The second, to turn that learning into action faster than your competitors. Don Peppers of Peppers & Rogers refined a more practical view on this, “give your customers a reason to invest time and effort in teaching you how to serve them better and be more relevant”.
- CC plays the long game – some of our greatest achievements occur when we consistently work towards a longer term goal. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos quotes “putting customer first is the biggest reason why Amazon is successful today. Many projects take 5 to 7 years to pay off to shareholders, yet value to customers is immediate. Long term creates higher calibre thinking”. I agree that the more longer term we are, the more strategic we are.
- Limited downside to customer centricity – There are of course challenges and barriers that organisations are facing when attempting CC transformation. Poor ROI outcomes slows down or kills transformation, however key reasons are usually associated with viewing results via traditional metrics instead of CC metrics like Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Other reasons include CC implemented as a tactical initiative over a company-wide strategy commitment, or finally, the organisations inability to effectively leverage data and correctly identify and invest in the right customers.
- Rewriting a more contemporary CV – As Bill George states in the Harvard Business Review on a world of rapid change and the fall out on short term gains thinking in the global financial crisis, “Authentic leaders focused on customers are replacing hierarchical leaders that focus on serving short-term shareholders”. Embrace this trend towards a more relevant people-focused leadership.
- Endless pursuit towards achieving a CC nirvana – The job never ends. There is no end state to deepening customer relationships, increasing the value exchange between customers and companies, and ultimately improving our communities and living standards.