As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 14th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
Is it back to business! As the year starts, some businesses have started putting into action their strategies. Year in year out, businesses want to be customer-centric. This year, it is no different. Many businesses have identified customer centricity as a key area of focus. Some businesses have even adopted customer centricity as one of their core values. Many are taking steps towards becoming customer-centric. What is the true meaning of customer-centricity? Is your approach to doing business customer-centric? What can you do to become more customer-centric?
Both globally and locally, customer-centricity remains a hot subject. This is because of the strong link between customer centricity and business performance. Though no businesses can claim to have achieved 100% customer-centricity, businesses that work towards customer centricity hold on to their customers longer. In the past two decades, I have walked with several businesses on the journey towards being customer-centric. As we have achieved key milestones, the goalposts have shifted. This is because the journey towards customer-centricity is never ending. True customer-centricity should be evident in both our short-term and long-term strategies every year. Further, it should be reflected in the decisions we make and in our everyday actions. Are your strategies customer-centric? How customer-focused are the decisions you make? How customer-focused are your actions?
Becoming more customer-centric starts with having the right mindset. Business founders, owners and the entire leadership must be completely sold out to the need to focus on the customers’ needs. This mindset helps align the overall corporate strategy to the needs of the target customers. The staff as well must recognize their responsibility in creating and delivering customer value. Everyone should strive to provide customers with an end-to-end experiences that makes customers come back. A focus on the customer should be evident across the entire business before, during and after a sale. A customer-centric mindset helps build a culture focused on meeting the needs of the customers and gives a competitive edge. In such a culture, the customer is at the center of the business decisions and actions and this position is evident across the business as a way of life.
Customer centricity requires coordinated efforts across the entire business. This means that all functions and departments need to be fully involved. In particular, each function must commit to making a significant contribution to the customer-centricity efforts. For example, human resource must be keen on policies and practices that are customer-centric and information technology must offer customer-centric interventions. Overall, customer-centric people, processes, tools and performance metrics must drive the business. It is the cumulative efforts year in year out that result in a customer-centric culture.
Finally, the voice of the customers and that of the employees must be well integrated into the customer-centric efforts. By listening more to our customers and employees, we identify gaps and opportunities to improve. As we execute our strategies this year, let us make them more customer centric. We are living in the age of the customer and I have no doubt that customer-centric businesses will continue to outperform their rivals. Let this year not be business as usual!
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy