Customer-centricity is like “excellent customer service” — everyone thinks they’re doing it, few actually are.
And one reason for that is that there are right and wrong paths to pursuing customer-centricity. Her’s a quick chart of the three most prominent wrong paths vs. their right path counterparts:
The first “wrong path” towards customer-centricity is taking customers’ (or worse, unqualified prospects’) spoken wishes at face value.
In other words, relying solely on surveys of potential customers as insight into “what the customer wants” is a bad idea. You might expend company resources creating exactly the offer people say they want, only to watch all the actual, paying customers actively choose someone else when it’s time to buy.
Businesses that achieve epic success through customer centricity take great pains to “see their customer real.” We’ll get into depth on techniques for this in my next post, but it involves tracking actual data on customer actions and understanding the context of buying decisions.
The second “wrong path” is to focus on the Peripherals at the expense of the “Hard Stuff.”
Imagine a dentist who focuses on being customer-centric by improving his waiting room with more comfortable furniture, a cappuccino machine, fast & free wi-fi, and plenty of power charging stations. That’s a focus on peripherals.
A focus on the hard stuff would be finding a way to reduce wait time to (nearly) zero.
The difference between peripherals and “hard” items is that
- Peripherals change with the times, hard stuff does not, and
- Hard stuff has the power to make peripherals irrelevant
The factors that make a better waiting room change with the times; for example, better magazines have given way to wi-fi. Whereas reduced wait time is always desirable, and a significantly shorter wait time makes the quality of the waiting room irrelevant.
The third “wrong path” is to over-focus on optimizing existing processes at the expense of re-engineering and innovation.
It’s a good thing to optimize the customer interactions you have in place now. But if you’re not looking at what customers really want — at an ideal interaction, unconstrained by current technology or operations requirements, — you won’t be able to innovate and invent on the customer’s behalf.
You could find ways to optimize the cash register or check-out experience for your store. by speeding up the check-out, keeping more registers open, automatically opening new registers when wait times exceed a certain number of minutes, etc.
Or, you could take advantage of new technology to re-engineer the shopping experience to render the cash register obsolete. Amazon Go‘s new offline store’s payment is handled via tracking and recording what you put in your cart and your card is automatically charged when you walk out the door with your stuff.
So what paths are you taking towards customer-centricity?