Cesar Marrón
Director General
Cardinal Health
Expert Contributor

Moving Your Organization Into Customer Centricity

By César Marrón | Thu, 06/03/2021 - 15:34

Company leaders are starting to recognize that culture and strategy go hand in hand. Only when customer-centric strategies are supported and advanced by culture will a company realize its  customer-centric vision.

A customer-centric strategy is a strategy that puts customer’s needs, wants, and communication preferences at the center of the buying process. The customer journey from start to finish should be designed so that all sales activities, marketing, customer service, and operations are aimed at helping the customer achieve short- and long-term success.

Fostering a customer-centric environment can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, which result in stronger relationships with customers, higher retention rates and an increase in customer referrals. Providing a positive and one-of-a-kind customer experience allows your company to stand out from others, leading you to acquire and retain more customers.

There may be other organizations that sell similar products. Implementing a customer-centric environment can convince customers to choose  your company over others, as many customers value a positive experience as much as the product's performance. Nowadays, concepts like customer centricity and social responsibility are so important they even enhance your value proposition.

The pharmaceutical sector is a prime example of the change in mindset to true customer-centricity — putting patients who need treatment at the center of the healthcare ecosystem, rather than treating them as components of transactional processes. The concept may look simple when you start to think first about your most important assets (customers) to provide a best-in-class integral service.

To be fully effective, customer-centric actions should go beyond the sales department and include your customer service, marketing, and operations as well. Companies with a customer-centric culture are driven by the desire to create the best possible customer experience. But this goes far beyond simply offering great customer service.

Focusing more on customer experience and customer satisfaction is a smart goal for any organization. Transforming your organization is not going to be easy and will take some time and resources in areas like marketing and supply chain, where customer centricity must be part of the strategic map and truly be integrated into daily operations.

Here’s what you need to know to develop true customer centricity. 

  • Prioritize your relationships with customers: As you work with customers, whether marketing, selling or designing products for them, remember to build a strong relationship and work hard to build a valuable and trustworthy relationship with them to ensure you keep them longer.
  • Adopt a consultative and integral selling approach: This is a key step to ensure each of your employees (especially your front-line employees) approach every interaction with your customers’ best interest in mind. That’s the way to build a real customer-centric culture. Sales teams must live and breathe customer centricity, from start to finish.

A customer-centric sales strategy focuses first on understanding the issue, then on helping to solve it with the most appropriate solution based on what is truly in the customer’s best interest. This improves customer satisfaction and builds your brand reputation.

  • Investing in new technologies to centralize customer data: Use new technological methods to track customer data and understand insights and behaviors to reach and connect with them more effectively.

Step forward to implement a customer-centric marketing strategy. Build and design tools to accomplish customer goals, and the business’s success will flow from that. Long-term value is your premise.

  • Strengthen customer service experience: True customer centricity is a business strategy that does not stop with the commercial team. Your customer service team is an integral part of the customer experience.

Include customer service training programs designed to give your customer service team the skills needed to delight customers, grow customer loyalty, and differentiate your company from the competition.

On the operational side, the supply chain area should also be included in this transformation. Change the supply chain from the only goal of reducing costs to the customer experience improvement initiatives embedded in the process of moving finished products from suppliers to customers.

A customer-centric supply chain is not just “demand-driven” anymore. You need to study your audience, their preferences, such as order channels, lead times and delivery methods, and align them with your operations. Understand what your customers want, the market gap, and your organizational resources to be more customer centric. Moreover, set realistic standards for your customers and be accountable to them.

To create a customer-centric supply chain, aim to make your supply chain visible. What orders are coming in and how to prioritize them? What products do you have on hand versus how much is in transit? There are many considerations across your supply chain. Thus, collaborate with your key stakeholders to gain real-time visibility.

Leverage that to be more reliable for your customers. If they trust you to deliver on your promises, you will enjoy repeated purchases and more revenue.

Demand forecasting
A big part of making your supply chain more customer-centric is being able to forecast what they need and when they need it. Data is key here. This includes POS data from customers, warehouse shipment data, returned merchandize, and even shipping and delivery times. Every node along your supply chain creates useful data and it is important to capture it.

Use it to forecast demand and supply fluctuations, which can help you become more agile and flexible to meet customers’ demand. Find an ideal platform that will integrate with your current technology to offer insights.

Transforming your organization by using a customer-centric model not only improves the experience your customers have with you, but it also results in increased revenue – making it a win-win relationship.

Be sure your customer service is translating into sales by giving your customer service professionals the skills and confidence to identify opportunities, and present valuable solutions with every customer interaction they have. According to research from Deloitte, companies that use a customer-centric strategy are 60 percent more profitable.

In conclusion, the business landscape today demands that organizations have the ability to transform themselves and be more agile. However, it’s important to realize that this transformation is not a quick one. In fact, it will be a process that needs every stakeholder to be on board and committed to it. Evaluate everything through the eyes of the customer and with the customer’s needs, wants, and behaviors in mind. Only when customer centricity is embraced in this way, can it be implemented effectively throughout the organization.                                       

Photo by:   César Marrón