Many businesses claim to be customer-centric, but few are. Customer-centric businesses see themselves from the eyes of their customers. They believe that without their customers, their existence is at stake. Such businesses do what needs to be done to fully understand and meet the needs of their customers. They listen to their customers, they put the customers’ interest at heart in their decision-making and their actions are focused on the customer. As a result, their strategy, people, processes are focused on the customer. Customer-centric businesses are intentional about building their culture around the customer. Such businesses are a rare gem!
Unfortunately, many businesses are not customer-centric. Such businesses do not seem to care much about the needs of their customers. Their strategy focuses mainly on revenues and profits without the recognition that those revenues are generated from customers. Some of these businesses go to the extent of claiming that their customers are too demanding and unreasonable. They consider their customers a pain, an interruption and the reason their businesses do not thrive. When businesses are not intentional about customer satisfaction and retention, they lose focus. The survival of such businesses is not assured. With time, their customers walk away one by one, never to return. The leadership often finds enough reasons to blame the frontline staff for failing to hold on to the customers.
The leadership responsibility in customer-centrism is humongous. Overall, business leaders are expected to be visionaries, team-builders, problem-solvers, strategists, change agents, coaches, influencers, motivators, role models and more. Great business leaders give meaning, provide direction, and inspire others to do what needs to be done. We must all recognize that leaders greatly influence the culture and strategy of their business. On matters customer-centricity, the buck stops with the leadership. Are you as a business leader fully committed to helping your business meet the needs of your customers? Do you know what your customers’ needs are? Are you listening to your customers? Are you supporting your team in meeting the needs of the customers? If a business is customer-centric, it is a reflection of customer-centric leadership. If your business is well known for causing customer pain, you as a leader need to be fully involved in steering the business towards reducing the pain.
I believe that great leaders can transform their businesses into a new disposition. This requires a leadership with a customer-centric mindset. It means choosing a strategic direction that puts the customer at the heart of the business. Customer-centricity has to be evident in the decisions that the leaders make. It also has to be seen in the actions the leaders take both in the short and long term. Furthermore, a customer-centric culture is only possible if the leadership is proactively driving it. Business leaders need to stop blaming frontline staff when customers leave and point fingers at themselves. To create a customer-centric business, act today! Listen to your customers, listen to your frontline staff, focus your business on the customers’ needs, and aim to reduce the customers’ pain. Choose to be customer-centric!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy