Customer centricity: Not just a buzzword

It’s not surprising attracting and retaining customers is a top issue for boards around the world.

When it comes to how well they are able to develop and then deliver on their customer strategy, KPMG’s Competing for Growth – Building a Connected Customer Enterprise 2017 survey  reports 30 percent of organisations score themselves as ‘average’, and 16 percent as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’,

Customers are increasingly sophisticated and look for clear and straightforward descriptions of services, a sense of the provider’s values, as well as a rewarding experience. So it’s no surprise putting customers first is increasingly viewed as a priority for business, as it not only drives profits but considerably increases an organisation’s competitive advantage.

Take the Australian Aged Care sector. The Australian Government’s introduction of the Consumer Directed Care model (CDC) in 2015, was designed to give more choice and flexibility to consumers. Consumers who receive a Home Care Package will have more control over the types of care and services they access and their delivery. They can more easily access relevant information to select their provider with greater transparency and enter into a partnership approach.

As part of global Smart Cities initiatives, local governments are focusing their efforts to become customer-first, service-led organisations. Councils are concentrating on adding value and enabling citizens to interact more easily with city services and infrastructure. For example, citizens can report an incident using their preferred channel such as a mobile app and sensors installed in city infrastructure can capture the foot traffic at a park or a particular location in real time. Both illustrate how technology can enable valuable feedback.

World-respected technology advisory firm Gartner defines Customer Experience Management (CEM) as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

To achieve this, organisations need to adopt a robust omnichannel platform to “hook” their customers. This means offering experiences that include, but are not limited to, websites, online stores, social media, live web chats, chat-bots, mobile applications and telephone communications.

This over-arching approach frequently requires process change and is usually accomplished using a number of new technologies.

Organisations can leverage several modern design techniques to make the transition to a customer-first focus organisation easier: they include Customer Journey Mapping and Design Thinking.

A Customer Journey Map (CJM) tells the story of the customer’s experience, from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into long-term relationships. The CJM identifies critical interactions customers have with an organisation. It builds on Design Thinking – a holistic, collaborative and people-oriented approach to creative problem-solving. The CJM talks about the user’s feelings, motivations and questions during their interactions with an organisation, and often outlines the customer’s higher motivation – including their expectations of service delivery.

Disruptive data technologies can also be used to aggregate and interrogate, by employing third parties data add-ons. Let’s say a housing developer overlays their customer segmentation with census data and building approval rates. This would enable them to decide where best to invest and conduct their targeted marketing campaigns.

Organisations that put today’s smart tech to smart use in planning the lifecycle of their customers’ interactions, will reap the rich rewards of growing loyalty and solid profits.


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