Walking the walk towards customer centricity

How to fulfill your potential whilst maturing the industry

In a world where we have no control over the pandemic and basic human needs of safety, social belonging, and financial security are threatened, success isn’t defined by traditional growth. Success is measured by how we ease the human experience of the crisis, making human-centered approaches to problem solving all the more relevant.

While business leaders may be focused on the crisis financial impact to their daily operations, they must also consider how these changes are affecting their employees, their families and the community.

Companies have been trying to adopt customer centricity for nearly 20 years now. But the CMO Council reports that only 14 percent of marketers say that customer centricity is a hallmark of their companies.

Why do so many companies struggle to get customer centricity right?

The volume, velocity, and variety of customer data that now exists overwhelms many organizations. Some companies don’t have the systems and technology to segment and profile customers. Others lack the processes and operational capabilities to target them with personalized communications and experiences.

But the most common, and perhaps the greatest, barrier to customer centricity is the lack of a customer-centric organizational culture. At most companies the culture remains product-focused or sales-driven, or customer centricity is considered a priority only for certain functions such as marketing. To successfully implement a customer-centric strategy and operating model, a company must have a culture that aligns with them — and leaders who deliberately cultivate the necessary mindset and values in their employees.

What does it mean to be customer centric?

You must win at every interaction the customer has with your organization, whether that be a marketing campaign, a call to a contact center, an invoice, or a delivery reliant on the supply chain.

Today’s consumers and business buyers are more informed and less loyal than their predecessors. They’ re looking for differentiated experiences that engender trust, and they will shop around to find them. For a customer that has established a relationship with a brand, this might mean receiving personalized recommendations based on their purchasing history as they scroll through a company’s website on the way home from work, then receiving a follow-up email the next day offering a discount.

To be truly customer-centric, personalization alone isn’t enough. When people say ‘customer experience should be owned by marketing,’ they don’t acknowledge that when a customer reaches out to talk to a brand, it’s usually to sales. And then if there’s a problem, they reach out to service — not marketing. Providing customers with a connected experience across your entire organization is vital. They also need to ensure that everyone within the organization has a single view of their customer and the role of customer experience.

Since customer experience runs on data, building trust with customers is necessary. Although many people are comfortable providing personal information in return for better experiences, the onus is on businesses to be transparent about how personal information is gathered, stored, and used, and to have strong privacy policies in place. If businesses use that information to push unrelated or irrelevant products, they’ ll lose trust.

Almost all business say they are customer centric, yet the reality is that very few actually are. It’s merely lip-service!

There’s increased visibility on customer actions, but the responsive solutions to problems are:

  • based on internal opinions of what the solution should be
  • not put through a testing tool to let the customers tell you what is their preferred solution.

Not only that, but in a year which saw machine learning’s rise to prominence, many businesses are still ignoring the value that one-on-one research has.

Investing in user research is fundamental to any business that is striving to become customer centric and develop an experimentation mindset.

“Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.” — Tim Brown, CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO

Do user research:

  • to ensure that you create products that are truly relevant to your target group.
  • to ensure that your products deliver a great user experience.
  • to show the ROI of your design efforts.

Be the change

We need to tackle the global pandemic which is bullshit optimisation educating the decision makers.

The industry needs more growth leaders, someone that is educating, inspiring other people and share the knowledge. To have a wider impact on the people around you and the industry, you have to be the change.

It is an hard work to become a growth leader, you have to plan ahead and have determination. You need to have also ambition. But there is a challenge that you probably face when you are ambitious, because you are very likely to come up with people that are above you in the business that are afraid of you.

I would summarize those people as HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion). HiPPOs usually have the most experience and power in the room. Once their opinion is out, voices of dissent are usually shut out and in some cases, based on the culture, others fear speaking out against the HiPPO’s direction even if they disagree with it.

Let’s reinvent the HIPPO

We need to reivent the HIPPO with new personality traits to make it something every single person within a business (and generally in life) can aspire to.

No matter how experienced I am, I know I do not have all the answers. It is important to have the humility and know that we don’t have all the answers. Never understimate the value and speaking to the end user and giving them the opportunity to share their best ideas.

“Humility trascends humanity. In the workplace, the less egotismo and opinio, the more enjoyable the company becomes to work within.” Paul Rouke

Having integrity (especially in business) will garner you more respect and provide you with a platform that more people will want to share with you.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.

You won’t be able to realise your potential in a role you’re not passionate about. You also can’t underestimate the importance of passion in motivating those around you.

When I focus on being positive in my life and in my work, more positive things happen.

If you start the journey to become a growth leader, you need to be open minded about facing off the fears (e.g do something for yourself and move out of your comfort zone). When we are open-minded, we are creating opportunities for ourselves to have new experiences in our lives or in our careers. We are stepping outside of our comfort zone to try new things.

For example, public speaking is the most powerful and influencing way to inspire and educate other people.

This is all for now. For sure there is way more that we could learn from the present situation. Do you have other ideas that you think should be on this list? Drop it in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

UX Researcher