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Organisations that place their products and services at the centre of their corporate thinking face the same fate as the dinosaurs – they are doomed to extinction.  They need to change their culture and behaviours from the very core; to stop pushing products and to start winning customers hearts, minds – and wallet share.

If you are still focussing on your products, you're doomed to extinction
Creative Commons License photo credit: williamcho

Unfortunately, many companies are still plodding along with an outdated, and inward-facing view of their business world.  Whilst they continue focussing on themselves, the customer is moving on to develop relationships with companies that value them as individuals and that know just how – and when – to address their needs.

In order to survive (and thrive), 21st century businesses must adopt a more customer-centric business model .  This model should extend to every part of the organisation, from research, product development, marketing, sales, delivery/operations through to customer service.

Customer-centricity provides a personalised experience…

Companies that made the move from mass marketing to segmented marketing during the late 1900's cannot rest on their laurels – the new rules of engagement dictate a customer-centric approach to doing business; one that fulfils the needs and wants of each individual customer – creating a tailored, personal experience that makes the customer feel:

“Welcomed, Wanted, Remembered, Cared For”

This particular statement encapsulates the behaviours that RitzCarlton Hotels staff use – as well as the renowned customer experience – that those behaviours deliver.

The journey to Customer-centricity…

As part of the journey to building a customer-centric organisation, we need to examine 5 key components or themes that blend together to affect the success – or failure – of a company:

  • Customers – ultimately, the customer is why we do what we do – without customers, we have no-one to consume our products or services and no reason to produce or deliver them. Whether we are public sector or private sector, our customers can be internal to the organisation as well as external and the transactions do not necessarily involve the exchange of money.
  • People – the foundation and cornerstones of your business, the un-sung heroes that serve your customers on a day-to-day basis, the ‘oil in the machine'.
  • Process – what you do and how you do it determines your bottom-line business costs, the the top-line revenue generated and, ultimately, the profit (or loss) made by your company.
  • Technology – enables people to process work more efficiently and in ways otherwise not possible; may be used as an enabler or differentiator – or may be the actual product or service offered.  It could also be the millstone round the neck of your employees, preventing them from delivering a ‘breathtaking customer experience' and causing uneccessary bottlenecks and inefficiences.
  • Change – we must understand that nothing we do is perfect, that the landscape we operate within does not stand still.  We must listen to our customers, the competition, the markets, the economy, the regulatory bodies, the legislators.  We must continually adapt and improve just to survive; if we want to be successful, we must constantly innovate and lead in our market space.

Each of these themes is explored in greater detail in the remaining articles in this series.