Building a Customer-Centric Organisation
“For businesses to be truly customer-centric they need to understand who they are as a brand; what their identity is and decide how they will present themselves in the customer relationship.”
We recently caught up with Juliet Mey, founder of Isibindi. A fully integrated B2B growth consultancy based in Cape Town, South Africa. Juliet’s core offering is helping organisations transform into a customer-centric business model. A business model that puts customers at the heart of everything they do to drive efficiency, meet and exceed promises and lift revenue. You can watch the key takeaways from the interview below.
Building a successful business takes courage
Juliet thoughtfully named her business Isibindi, the Zulu word for ‘courage’, explaining that to be a successful business, you need courage.
“Many businesses feel overwhelmed at the thought of switching to a customer-centric model, for two reasons. One, because it means that they’ll actually have to start listening to their customers, taking note of how customers really feel about doing business with them. And two because it might have to mean making some fundamental shifts in how they operate.”
When is a business ready for a customer-centric model?
While any business, no matter what size can implement customer-centric strategies, growing SMEs are in the best position to make the transition.
“When organisations reach that tipping point, it’s a crucial time for them to take a look at the business and the customer experience they’ve achieved and determine how they can scale that personal customer experience as a business.”
Larger businesses often need customer-centricity the most but are faced with more implementation challenges than SMEs.
“Large corporates are monolithic and often have a lot of red tape and politics, making the shift slightly more challenging.”
The difference between customer-centricity and customer experience
It’s important to understand the difference between customer-centricity and customer experience.
“Customer experience is the tactic of interacting with a customer at specific touchpoints (how your call center handle your clients or how you interact on social media for example.) Customer-centricity is a business strategy. It’s the way in which an organisation chooses to operate. It’s not just a marketing term, it’s a business term.”
When it comes to customer experience, Juliet says it’s sometimes just the little things that make the biggest difference.
“We very seldom see a product that is totally unique. Businesses can’t always differentiate on product, but they can differentiate in the customer experience they provide. And people are willing to pay for a superior customer experience.”
What does it take to be truly customer-centric?
“For businesses to be truly customer-centric, they need to understand who they are as a brand, what their identity is and decide how they will present themselves in their customer relationships.”
The first step towards developing customer-centricity in your business is to fully understand who the customer is. There are several tools and exercises like customer journey mapping and empathy mapping that assist in unpacking your audience segments and identifying the key points in the relationship. Understanding your company culture is also a part of the process. These three components; brand identity, customer and culture need to speak to each other and work coherently.
According to a recent interview by Bain and Company. 80% of businesses felt they were delivering superior exercise to their customers. Shockingly, only a meek 20% of customers felt that they were receiving a superior service. This shows that there is a huge disconnect that needs to be addressed.
Tip: create and send out a survey (Survey Monkey) to your customer base to assess their customer satisfaction and view of your product, customer service and brand. Use the feedback from the survey.
Benefits of a customer-centric organisation
In Juliet’s experience, the greatest benefit is FOCUS. Focus in strategy, focus in product development, focus on which initiatives to drive and focus on your marketing activities. It also helps bring brand consistency.
“It brings focus and helps you hone in on what your customers actually need, not what you think they need.”
Businesses can also expect better staff retention and better job satisfaction for their staff. If your staff is happy, your customers will be too.
Where do I start?
“Start with a conversation. Raise the topic of customer-centricity at a C-suit level, as their buy-in is essential. Analysing your brand, your culture and your customers and assessing if there is a disconnect is the next step.”
Trusting the process
As with any change in a business, there is a period of adjustment in the transition towards a customer-centric model. To this, Juliet says to “trust the process.” It’s a process that can be iterated and adapted as it unfolds, allowing for flexibility.