A Blueprint for Becoming a Customer-Centered Company
By Brian Solis
Customers adapt to disruption faster than most organizations.
It’s one of the many lessons we’ve learned since the start of the pandemic. The foundation for the next generation of business rests on enhancing an organization’s internal operations to quickly deliver value-added customer experiences (CX) at scale.
In a recent research report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 88% of survey respondents say it is very important to have a complete and consistent view of their customers across their sales, service, and support channels and platforms. Yet only 31% say they have such a unified view.
Customer centricity represents the future of business model innovation, but organizations need a blueprint to integrate CX insights with a unified engagement model.
Five Steps for Customer Centricity
If you picture a customer-centered company, you might visualize a hub-and-spoke model with customers and everything we know about them at the center, surrounded by supporting business functions.
The goal is to enable better, more relevant experiences for customers by connecting their way, understanding their needs and desired outcomes, and promoting cohesive internal operations.
Organizations can make five changes to better position customers at the center of their operations and innovation cycle:
- What separates today’s experiences from tomorrow’s improvements starts with assessing current state customer experiences and how they’re supported across your business. A current state assessment is a critical enabler of transformation that tells you where you are so you can chart a course of action. Rob Birse, head of global B2B ecommerce at Kellogg’s, admits everything changed after sitting down with retail customers in the field to learn their pain points. “It totally changed my perspective on how to justify a program. We evolved from focusing on the business case dollars and cents to instead focusing on pain points. Now, we’re looking for pain points all the time and asking the question, ‘Well, what happens if we resolve that?’ When you can resolve pain points at scale, it will unlock revenue streams and make it easier for internal stakeholders to understand the size of the prize.”
- With a current-state assessment complete, define and articulate what a vision for best-in-class CX should look and feel like. This vision becomes your motivator for a future state: the sheet music for all the cross-functional teams, technology, processes, and policies in your customer-centered symphony.
- Identify the touchpoints, processes, training, and systems gaps your organization needs to create or improve to deliver the upgraded CX vision. Think of this as an aspirational customer journey map. It’s not about mapping touchpoints and pathways, however; it’s a blueprint for the future, incorporating all the customer-centered enhancements that will deliver the desired experience.
- Connect and align sources to produce a single view of the customer. To keep up with customers and to deliver a personalized, connected, and evergreen customer experience, connect customer data and engagement records to key touchpoints and transactions that define their experience with your organization.
- Define, prioritize, and align the resources, tools, roadmaps, timelines, and metrics to begin transforming into a customer-centered company. By creating a cross-functional team that reports directly to senior leadership, you’re committing to this customer-centered vision—putting your transformation plan into action so you can clearly hear the voice of your customer.
A Unified Approach to Customer Centricity Delivers a Unified Customer Experience
Unified CX must drive deep into your organization. Improving CX involves all the back-office functions, systems, and processes that support the front office, including information technology (IT), operations, product development, finance, and human resources.
Traditional models keep these functional leaders disconnected from customers, but they are the gatekeepers to the processes and systems that facilitate customer engagement: finance can partner with line-of-business leaders to champion investments, define key metrics, and set targets for returns.
Customer-centered businesses use technology that enhances internal collaboration around the customer: unifying customer-facing touchpoints, data, and analytics to empower every team with the insights and tools to contribute to excellent customer experiences. Timely shared insights can also lead to improvements in products and services and to operational processes that help your organization continually meet customer expectations.
All these elements working in harmony add up to a human-centered culture, focused on optimizing customer centricity with speed and agility.
Your customer-centered blueprint is based on aligning your company around a single shared view of your customers, and the insights that lead to delivering to them the experiences they value.
Read The Transformation Playbook to learn how to change company mindsets, connect silos, and center on your customer.
Brian Solis is Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. He’s also a world-renowned digital anthropologist, keynote speaker, and eight-time best-selling author.