What’s a customer centric business, anyway?

Dreamforce was overCustomer-Centric-Model-31 the top again this year. The message was clear:

At the core, every business function is marketing~ and every business needs to be customer centric.

So what is a customer centric business? Quite simply it’s  a paradigm shift from product-focused culture , to a customer-focused culture, where success is measured more by customer satisfaction rather than short-term profits from product sales.

In my consulting practice, I focus on employee engagement in building customer center cultures. If you  and  your people are engaged, your customers will be too! 

Let’s take a look at a few key leadership behaviors in a customer centric organization:

Make direct contact with customers, regularly. When leaders are truly committed to being more customer-centric, they will demand more voice-of-customer feedback. This might mean attending focus groups and research sessions personally, or interviewing customers directly.

Accumulate expertise in customer centricity. Leaders committed to more customer-oriented practices at a firm will do things like attending conferences and training sessions, benchmarking with customer-centric firms, and sharing best practices with other business units or affiliated companies.

Cross boundaries to generate enterprise-wide results. Leaders who are committed to more customer-centric practices will spend the time and effort necessary to break down organizational silos.  But even when these barriers persist, committed leaders will do their best to ensure that each customer has an experience that is consistent across all products and channels. Leaders who are committed to a customer-centric transformation will make it their business to sponsor cross-departmental initiatives aimed at eliminating inconsistencies and sharing best practices.

Measure success differently. Crossing boundaries can only be effective over the long term if new metrics and reward structures are also introduced. In a customer centric culture, the primary metric for success isn’t sales volume, it’s customer satisfaction!

Focus on incremental progress and “quick wins.” A large part of change management involves accumulating small successes, celebrating them, and building gradual organizational momentum toward the change required. Over time, small efforts, limited-scope projects, quick wins and even “near misses” all add to the momentum.

Communicating and living by customer-centric values. Does your executive team “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk” of customer-centricity? A committed leader finds opportunities to discuss with staff members how the company should treat certain types of customers, perhaps focusing on particular lifestyles, transaction patterns, or just simple demographics. a leader committed to customer centricity will also be committed to transparency and trustability – ensuring that the organization’s official policy is always to act in the customer’s interest, even when it might not yield the same level of short-term profit.

If you haven’t seen the new Salesforce platform yet, here’s a preview- https://www.salesforce.com/form/conf/salesforce-platform-demo.jsp

Imagine managing your entire business, workforce and customer needs from a mobile device.  Marc Benioff, CEO of Saleforce, stated  in this key note that he has been operating SalesForce for the past 6 months entirely from his mobile device. 

Listen to more of Marc Benioff’s keynote here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17nkRm1hlY8