Customer centricity in place of silo thinking
There is a broad consensus today that customer centricity is important. However, attempts to firmly anchor customer experience (CX) management into the organization continue to be challenging. In my guest post, find out why that is so and what you can do about it.
Many companies are experiencing a structural crisis. The solution: A structural response instead of individual actions. Besides the vertical organization, a horizontal, process-oriented perspective is needed, with a focus on the customer experience and the interactions between customers and companies.
- CX must be anchored in a company’s strategy and target systems, encompass all employees and become part of management development.
- Since customer expectations are dynamic and fluid, companies need to analyze the CX and gain knowledge about the customer continuously.
- Even though the customer experience mostly occurs in the core processes, many companies do not have a good handle on their standard transactions.
The credibility gap
Customer experience primarily means finding the perfect balance between product and customer centricity. But the credibility gap is often bigger than expected. While companies believe that they know their customers, customers, on the other hand, feel that companies do not understand them. Since the customer journey is dynamic, many companies do not even know which path to take to find their customers.
This is precisely where CX management comes in because the future of customer centricity lies between the image others have of a company and the image the company has of itself. In this context, it helps to gain a better understanding of the complexity of all these touchpoints, customer journeys and business processes.
“Customer experience means working on the culture, rather than introducing a tool overnight. Everyone must be aware of this and should have relevant communication support. It’s a change process.”
Cyrill Luchsinger, consultant, blogger and speaker on the topic of customer centricity
A top-down approach in place of silo thinking
The silo thinking that is so widespread in companies is one of the main reasons businesses do not truly understand their customers. Individual departments work and think, be it marketing, sales, customer service or logistics. But customers are not interested in that. They want straightforward, fast and reliable services, which means that companies must adopt the customer perspective, i.e., implement a top-down approach. Therefore, it is about establishing a customer-centric mindset – and this has to happen across departments. We can only counteract the widespread formation of silos if interdisciplinary teams are part of product development.
Four steps toward more customer centricity
1. Build a joint customer understanding
To facilitate creating a realistic image of the customer, every department with direct or indirect customer contact should have the opportunity to contribute their knowledge.
2. Develop cross-departmental customer centricity
Project committees receive support from CX experts who contribute methods, lead the development process and moderate cross-functional discussions.
3. Define roles and responsibilities
Design activities and responsibilities are derived from the jointly developed understanding of customer experience and value proposition.
4. Hand over responsibility and empower your employees
In addition to understanding the customer and the defined customer experience, companies have to empower their employees to live customer centricity in their daily work. This company-internal collaboration is the key to solving complex problems – and is the greatest challenge at the same time.
Even if the implementation involves everyone, companies must initiate CX management at the highest level. They must “live” it at the management level, translate it into goals for employees and anchor it into their culture. A sustainable change will only occur once the thinking and doing of every employee have changed to the core.
About the author
Cyrill Luchsinger is a consultant, blogger and speaker on the topic of customer centricity. He helps companies adopt the customer perspective by providing concept advice, workshops and project support. He also works with Schweizerische Post, the Swiss postal service, as part of the “Post von Morgen” (Tomorrow’s Mail) transformation project. He is a CX influencer and CX thought leader in the German-speaking CX business community.