Posted in: Truly Customer-Centric by ntree on May 1, 2012
For over a decade now the gurus have been touting customer-centricity, and almost every business will tell you that they are customer-centric, but in reality they are not even close. I don’t blame them because true customer-centricity is difficult to achieve. It requires a strategic and operational pivot in how businesses act every day in all of their dealings with prospects and customers. The example you always hear about is the “360-degree view” or “unified view” of a customer. In other words, the business has a CRM database that tracks all customer interactions across all of its business units and makes that information available to all of its business units. This is definitely a pre-requisite for customer-centricity but it is not a sign that it has been achieved.
Customer interactions and the CRM products that manage them almost always reflect the structure of the business’s selling & service processes as opposed to the customer’s buying & using processes. Companies have offloaded the complexity of an integrated experience to the customer, making them wade through multiple touch points, departments, and representatives in order to satisfy their needs. For example, how many of us have literally spent hours trying to find the right person at a bank or telecommunications provider to answer our question? How about dealing with a technical issue with a software or hardware product?
Truly customer-centric businesses let the customer decide how they get the answers they want. Customers of these businesses know the name of an actual person (the “customer advocate”) that they can contact for all of their needs. They can also contact the advocate by email, phone (call or text), or via social networking. The advocate brokers the request to the specialists within the company and gets the customer the answers they require. Traditionally, this level of service was only cost-effective for expensive and complex products like B2B sales and big-ticket B2C items like cars, appliances, or financial products. However, new technologies, like Ntree’s CRM products, are making this possible and scalable for more and more businesses.