The customer as an innovation driver

New work, agility, increased efficiency, and savings – often, companies focus on their own processes rather than concentrating on their customers. Today, however, the alignment with customer needs is considered a central doctrine of successful corporate management. But what exactly is it that makes true customer centricity fail – and how can companies change that?

If customer proximity is not internalized at the top management level and not modeled every day, there is little prospect of integrating the customer perspective into the organization and its processes. Even appointing a chief customer officer would do little to change that: Customer orientation cannot be outsourced. It remains the responsibility of every individual employee – from the managing director to the customer-facing customer service representative.

Three suggestions for more customer centricity in the company

Bring the customer into your company

Top managers, too, should seek customer contact – if they don’t, the customer perspective will remain unfamiliar to them. The closer the board room is to the customer and the more credibly the need for consistent customer orientation is communicated internally, the more successfully customer centricity can be anchored in the corporate culture in the long term. Why not hang up pictures of customers in every meeting room and, during meetings, always keep this question in mind: “What sustainable value do our products bring to our customers?”

KPIs for more customer orientation

Making customer focus measurable and developing appropriate incentive models are the next logical steps in the right direction. Why not integrate customer contact and entrepreneurial initiative into employees’ performance assessments and then provide financial rewards for them as well? The prerequisite for this is the introduction of key figures that allow us to measure the performance of customer management.

Technical readiness for more customer centricity

Executives today have the task of paving the way for a more customer-centric business, organizationally and mentally. This task also includes the introduction of technical solutions for customer relationship management: Not only does the intelligent automation of background processes ensure efficiency gains, but it also provides the data foundation for answering the right questions. “What are the customer’s needs in his/her current life situation?” “Which services does he/she need?” and “On which channel or at what time should we present him/her what offers?”

One thing is clear: While smart technologies are a necessary prerequisite for long-term customer relationships, a company’s willingness to consider its own solutions from the customer’s point of view and to think about the benefits they bring to the customer ensures genuine customer centricity. If we follow this path consistently, we will find that customer centricity truly drives innovation.