An annual survey conducted by market research company Ask Afrika since 2001, called the Ask Afrika Orange Index®, has ranked South Africans’ opinions about which companies are delivering the best customer service. They conduct 33 000 independent interviews and survey more than 110 companies across 22 industries. This year’s Top 20 overall winners both come from automotive brands, VW and Toyota, with the only bank on the list, Capitec, placing third.
I had a really interesting discussion with a prospective client recently. He is the MD of a multi franchise vehicle business. Successful? – no doubt. Customer-Centric? – I don’t think so.
It’s extraordinarily easy to make uneconomic investments in customer experience – much of the time and money ‘invested’ is wasted because organisations fail to understand the criticality of systems thinking and the need for ‘silo-busting.’ They also focus on how they ‘deliver’ experiences rather than understanding how people ‘have’ experiences. It is how people ‘have’ an experience that influences the choices they make in the pursuit of what they really want.
I downloaded an infographic this morning from Customer Management Exchange Group that shows the Top 5 Areas of Investment for Marketing Leaders and how investment priorities have changed for strategic marketers over the last 12 months. Basically – I’m shocked!
To be customer-centric requires business capability to design and to consistently deliver a unique and distinctive customer experience to a selected set of customers in order to acquire, retain and to develop them efficiently.
I was privileged to be taught by the late Dr Russell Ackoff at The Wharton School and he re-enforced my long held belief that one of the major challenges organisations face when trying to transform their business models to become more customer-centric is a lack of systems thinking. Dr Ackoff produced extensive research, insights and knowledge into how systems thinking is the only way to approach organisational development. He explained that many of the challenges we face in trying to understand our organisations such that we can transform them, come from using analytical thinking.
Here are 3 questions designed to get you thinking a little differently about the criticality of developing customer-centric capability within your organisation. These ideas are attributed to Don Peppers & Martha Rogers of Peppers & Rogers Group, whom I worked with very briefly around 11 years ago.
The term ‘sustainable company’ is spoken about and referred to fairly frequently these days. At the core of this trend is the fact that consumers and the general public are not satisfied with businesses that focus solely on short-term profit maximisation. People want businesses to be far more considerate of broad based human needs.
I’m regularly asked what metric should be used to measure customer-centric capability. The reality is ‘a measure’ is not sufficient. Trying to craft a customer strategy, develop customer-centric capabilities and operationalise those capabilities isn’t going to be supported by ‘a measure.’
Let’s face it. There is very little new about the concept of customer-centricity. There is however, plenty of room for improvement in both strategy and execution.
What creates the problem?
I’ve long been a supporter of “Blue Ocean Strategy” thinking. I’m also a firm believer that the greatest opportunities for business today lie with business model innovation – i.e. finding new ways to create, deliver and capture value. This enables the creation of uncontested market space – ripe for growth.