The Two Faces of Customer Centricity
The term Customer Centricity is a commonly used one, and many of us have come across it on many occasions. In essence, what it really means is putting customers at the center of every strategy, decision, or action you take.
Customers and their experiences should be at the very core of any Digital Transformation; this is true whether you are looking at the overall Digital Transformation of your organization or at the transformation of different functions and areas of your business as part of your overall strategy. And though when we talk about Customer Centricity most people’s minds go to the external customer; we need to explore the other face of Customer Centricity and consider the importance and power of the internal customer.
Developing and implementing a combined Customer-Centric strategy; one that focuses on both the internal and external customer can help an organization achieve the growth and transformation it aspires to.
To further delve into both faces of Customer Centricity, we interviewed our CHRO - Rasha Atallah, and our Director of Marcoms, Partnerships & Alliances - Zaid Al Azab, to share their views on the topic from an HR and Commercial perspective.
Q1: To Rasha:
Where does Customer Centricity fit in an HR strategy?
“First, I would like to stress that Customer Centricity is the responsibility of every single individual in any organization, no exceptions! It should be embedded in its strategy and cascaded down to all functions and even individuals. However, the core of HR focuses on the Internal Customer; the employee, and Customer Centricity should be at the center of any successful HR strategy. It is the nucleus around which the entire HR Strategy should be built.”
Q2: To Zaid:
Product Centricity and Customer Centricity are commonly confused with each other but there is a clear distinction between the two. Can you elaborate on that? Also, where does Customer Satisfaction fit into the equation?
“Customer Centricity is a broad concept and a non-ending endeavor. Customer-Centric companies place the customer at the center of their strategies. Identifying their needs, challenges, and pain points, then creating solutions and products that address them. These companies have a keen understanding of their customer segments, and they focus on articulating the whole customer journey for a greater customer experience, aiming at building customer loyalty and thereby growing their business”.
On the other hand, Product-Centricity revolves around companies placing all their focus solely on the product and developing newer and advanced products irrespective of its demand in the market.
Finally, Customer Satisfaction is a metric that reflects the extent to which customer expectations are met and the feelings they have towards a specific experience. It also goes beyond the initial point-of-sale, like making a purchase online, returning a product with the help of customer service, or seeking product support through a ticketing system. It is one of the metrics that could be measured across different “customer interaction points” to ensure delivering promises and positive customer experiences across different functions. This can be achieved by designing and building customer experiences based on a customer-centric approach”.
Q3: How do we become Customer-Centric?
“From an HR perspective and looking at the internal customer, we become customer-centric by focusing on the Employee Experience (Ex). Employee experience is the sum of all the experiences and interactions an employee has with the organization throughout their employee journey starting from when they are still potential candidates until after they leave the organization.
Therefore, to be customer-centric an organization must constantly review, evaluate and re-invent the work environment, policies, processes, structure, tools and technologies that impact each of those touchpoints or interactions to deliver an optimal employee experience that is centered around what employees want and expect from each of those experiences”.
“Customer Centricity is an organizational mindset that should be woven through its fibers, not just customer-facing teams. From a strategic perspective, many arenas and disciplines could be touched upon to pursue true Customer Centricity, and they may vary based on the size, sector and business model of an organization”.
My view would be working on achieving the below:
An In-Depth Understanding of the Customer
Creating an Organizational Design that supports Customer Centricity (Workflows, Processes, Automation, Procedures)
Positioning Customer Centricity as a Core Value/ Principle in an Organization’s Culture
Viewing Employees as Internal Customers
Focusing on Customer-Driven Innovation (Where customers are involved and have a say)
Maximizing Customer Experience
Opening Channels for Feedback and Listening
Carefully Adopting a Real Digital Transformation Strategy
Making Data-Driven Decisions
What is the link between Internal and External Customer Centricity?
“We have all heard the phrase “a happy employee makes a happy customer” or some variation of it.
There is a lot of merit in this statement. It has long been proven that if an organization wants to follow an impactful Customer-Centric approach, then its internal functions must master the art of customer-centricity themselves, there is no other way. Having internal operations built around your employees intrinsically motivates and deepens customer-centric efforts in all layers of the organization and helps create and maintain a customer-centric culture”.
“The link is simple; a company that cares about employees will result in employees that care about the company, where no company can grow or sustain without the satisfaction of its external customers. As a result, companies that exhibit internal customer-centric practices will instill these behaviors in their employees and help shape a customer-centric mindset.
Let’s look at a couple of examples, a customer care agent who has any company related issue or a challenge and gets it attended to and resolved by the company’s internal functions such as HR, Finance or Logistics; will go the extra mile to make sure that the customer’s issue is resolved too. Also, when a project manager is happy and engaged in his/her role they will correspondingly be engaged in the work they do for their customer and you will see those positive sentiments reflected and projected on their work in terms of efficiency and quality. There are of course many more examples of how Internal Customer Centricity has reflective results externally.
The main takeaway here is that every single individual at the company can help increase the levels of customers satisfaction and enhance their experience in one way or another, a matter that leads to strengthening the value of Customer Centricity and rooting it deeply into the company’s grounds”.
What, in your opinion, is the impact of a Customer-Centric approach internally?
“An internal Customer-Centric approach improves employee morale and results in more productive and committed employees. It also leads to higher levels of employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention as well as improved external customer satisfaction as we mentioned before”.
From a commercial perspective, how do you measure the success of your Customer-Centric strategy?
“Other than the obvious measurement, there are a number of other, equally important, metrics that indicate success such as”:
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Better Customer Experience (CX)
Increased Customer Loyalty
Increased Customer Stickiness
Positive Word of Mouth and Feedback
Customer Centricity as a concept is not exclusive to external customers. In fact, to be truly customer-centric, an organization must equally address both internal and external customers. Simply put, the focus on it from an internal perspective will result in better external Customer-Centricity that will, in turn, drive the business to thrive in a smart, customer-focused, and innovative manner.