Photo by Christina Branco on Unsplash
It’s a painful and frustrating experience to discover you’ve become too internally orientated, that your customer has changed and that your business is no longer where it needs to be.
You want to change direction and embrace better ways to become more relevant, but how can you keep the wheels of your business in motion while rebuilding the track?
Rubica is an organisational change consultancy that helps companies, big and small, re-balance their business and bring the customer back into sharper focus by improving their culture, processes, strategy, structure and performance measures. Here are our six top tips to kick-start a customer-centric change within your business, and make it stick…
1. State the case for change. What’s at stake and what’s to gain?
It may seem obvious that to become a more customer-centric organisation, you need to realign your business but remember; many people within your business will be too removed from the ‘front line’ to:
- See the problem clearly
- Understand what benefits change will bring to all parties
Help them buy-in by encouraging leaders to paint a clear, detailed picture that explains:
- What’s happening now and why? For example:
The market has changed
The disruption in the market
The customer has shifted towards new habits, platforms and geographies
- What’s at stake if we continue down this road? For example:
Loss of relevancy
Loss of revenue
Loss of morale
- What are the benefits of becoming more customer-centric? For example:
Increased new business opportunities
To become the long-term partner of choice with the most valuable customers
Increased morale and motivation
The answers to these questions are the key ingredients of your change story. The objective of which is to help people align around a common goal and galvanise them into action.
This should spark plenty of healthy debates to draw out the tension and get everyone focusing around one clear ambition: To build a stronger business by adopting a more customer-centric culture.
Top tip: Don’t assume you’ll get everyone’s buy-in immediately. Look for ways for people to come together to gather their thoughts and allow time for group ‘sense making’ and dialogue. Remember; most leaders don’t usually have the time or luxury to pause long enough to discuss and explore together.
2. Hang out in your customers’ ‘space’. Their experience and views will surprise and inspire you.
Our customers are one of the most important people to our business, so even if we think we know them well enough, we don’t.
That’s why it’s important to consider things on their terms and force yourself to see the world through their eyes.
How does your product, brand or service fit in to their experience and does it match their expectations? What are the areas that need improving and the opportunities for growth?
Top tip: Challenge yourselves to better explore specifically how you and your products could help solve the most common problems your customers are facing – that are relevant to your offering. How could you make their day or challenges easier?
3. Review the business holistically. Can you see the customer?
Use a tool like the STAR model to examine key aspects of your business; from your strategy to your structure, systems, processes, KPI’s, ways of working and commonly held beliefs.
Now you have a complete picture of your organisation, ask yourself, where does the customer fit in?
Finding a lack of customer-centric thinking in key areas is the first step to figuring out which parts of the business should be tweaked to bring the customer back into balance.
Top tip: This step is about building a clear picture of what organisational mechanisms we might want to change, not blaming teams and people for how we’ve been working. So, although this exercise will reveal the gaps, it’ll also show you what’s working well. Be sure to acknowledge, reward and up scale the great work that’s already being done.
4. Plan the road ahead together
Change is far easier, more effective and long lasting when it is planned and executed together as a team. So, leave hierarchy at the door and hold good cross-functional debates which involve many ‘levels’ of the organisation. Together, you should create and commit to just one list that clearly states the big and small changes you’ll be laser-focused on. This should begin with the fundamental changes that will deliver the most value quickly, whilst moving you closer to your longer-term goals.
Top tip: Establishing cross-functional and cross-hierarchy teams to drive your change plan is a key way to ensure end-to-end transformation doesn’t run out of steam or get diverted.
5. Create measures and rewards that track and celebrate customer centricity
Measures drive conversation and shape company direction, so make sure your customers are part of your measurement framework.
Both recognition and rewards also help to reinforce the right behaviours and ways of working, so don’t forget to celebrate customer centricity throughout the business.
Top tip: Look to embed customer-centric thinking simply into cultural hotspots. For example, when product revenue streams are mentioned during commercial reviews, could revenue streams based on critical customer segments also be discussed alongside?
6. Hang out more with your customers. They will surprise and inspire you.
Remember, if we think we know our customers, we don’t. There’s always something new to learn!
Truly customer-centric organisations keep the customer close and remember to consider their needs when planning, executing and measuring all aspects of their business. For many companies, this goal represents a journey which Rubica is proud to help them facilitate.