Customer centricity is often at the top of the list of desirable qualities in any organization. One reason for this is that it can have such a positive impact on business growth and results. A customer centric company focuses on improving the customer experience as a means of building loyalty and repeat business. To successfully shift to a customer centric culture, everybody in the organization has to be on the same page. Every individual must change their behavior to reflect the mindset that the customer experience is the most important factor in determining how to go about any given task.
Whether it’s becoming customer centric or striving toward any other type of goal that requires participation at every level, changing behaviors through culture transformation can be challenging. Watch for these three common pitfalls as your organization embraces customer centricity.
1. Seeing customer centricity as a task instead of part of the DNA
Truly changing the way people think and act takes more than just a few pep talks about customer centricity at the annual retreat or during the occasional staff meeting; it requires incorporating customer experience into the DNA of the organization. When this happens, every individual in the company thinks about how each action they take will influence the customer experience. Getting to this level starts with leadership.
It’s not enough for senior leadership to decide that the company is going to become customer centric and delegate the task to HR or line managers for execution. Customer centricity is not a task—it’s a mindset. You can’t achieve customer centricity with a one-and-done training. Changing hearts and minds requires constant effort for an extended period of time. Leadership must model the desired behaviors that lead to customer centricity. This may require leadership training to ensure that those behaviors become ingrained and that leaders can coach their employees to become customer centric.
2. Forgetting that everybody must be included
A common mistake organizations make when becoming customer centric is assuming that only the people who directly interact with customers need to be included. Everybody in the company has the power to impact the customer experience, so it’s important to shift the culture across the entire organization. The people providing services, sending invoices, developing products, and working in support roles all have the potential to make a positive contribution to the customer experience. Becoming customer centric encourages everybody to recognize when something could be improved, share their ideas, and take action to delight the customer.
When others see customer centric behaviors and the positive effects they have, they will want to learn how they can be a part of it. To support this, provide training to teach everyone in the organization how they can become truly customer centric. Customer centricity training isn’t about learning what to say in specific situations—that’s customer service training. Customer centricity training teaches people how to think and behave differently so that they always consider the impact their decisions have on the customer experience. It’s also critical that line managers are supportive of the shift toward customer centricity because if they are not, the employees they lead will quickly revert to old behaviors.
3. Giving up too soon
A common scenario we see when companies try to become customer centric is a significant initial effort that fizzles over time. It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see immediate results, but changing behaviors is no small task. If the change is not sustained, people will naturally revert to their previous behaviors. It often takes 2-3 years for an organization to become truly customer centric, so don’t be too disheartened if it doesn’t happen overnight.
Have a strategy for helping employees retain training content, and roll out new training opportunities over time. Include discussions of customer centricity in all internal communications to keep it top of mind and integrate it into the language people use every day. To help sustain the momentum and energy, remind people of the reasons for customer centricity and celebrate successes along the way.
Maintain the momentum
Avoiding these common pitfalls is possible through strong leadership, training programs that include everybody, and a lasting commitment to being customer centric. Remember that other priorities will surface during the course of becoming customer centric, making it difficult to maintain a singular focus. Staying committed to customer centricity will ultimately help boost profits, increase loyalty, and keep your company competitive. To learn more about how to become a customer centric organization, watch this interview with Eagle’s Flight Founder Phil Geldart.