I remember going through a survey conducted by one of the Fortune 100 companies (in fact top 20), in which 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide were interviewed, about their strategic concerns and priorities. Though they all had starkly divergent concerns and visions, surprisingly 95% of these top-performing organizations identified one common strategic initiative: getting closer to customers and establishing deeper engagements, or in other words being more Customer-Centric. The volatile business world, over the last decade has taken a paradigm-shift from the add-on customer service at one time to customer experience and today’s a must have customer centricity. However, customer centricity is very different from customer focus. As per Dr. Peter Fader, who championed the term, customer-focus is treating the customers always right where as customer-centricity is ‘looking at a customer’s lifetime value and focusing marketing efforts squarely on that real-world, high-value customer segment to drive profit’.
Customer-centricity and business-volatility are inter linked. As per a study, between 1973 and 1983, 35 % of the top companies in the Fortune 1000 companies were new entrants, which rose to 45 % in the next decade, and jumped to 60 % in the next. This reached almost 70% in the last decade (2003 to 2013). The differentiator between the ones that made it big to the list and the ones that didn’t was simple: business-agility i.e. anticipating, sensing, responding and adapting to the changing situations and the met and unmet needs & desires of our customers. These understandings helps us design offerings that are better sellable. A classic example of achieving agility through customer centricity is that of Apple: fast changing products designed keeping the customers at the heart of affairs.
Customer-centricity motivates organizations to be proactive, offer services and add-ons even before the customer has to ask for it, invent themselves and look-out for opportunities, thereby making them more agile and hence adaptive to the changing situations. It is also an integral part of business agility, is all about innovation in not only the core product but also the add-ons and fringe offerings. One such innovative offering is striking an emotional-connection with our valued customers. George Torok, the co-author of the national bestseller, “Secrets of Power Marketing” once famously said “We buy because of emotional wants. You will be more successful when you market and sell to the emotional wants of your prospects.” Acceptance, validation, Convenience, control and sense of Belongingness are some such emotional triggers that decide customers’ buying behavior. But remember, customer centricity is not just about understanding the superficial needs of customers but it’s more about understanding their hidden desires and to tap on them. No wonder today more and more number of firms are using actively Web, interactive and social media channels, besides the conventional mediums, to engage with customers and thus move them in their directions.
When I came onboard last year, the first thing which caught my attention was the marquee logos we have at Mindtree. Not many companies around us are lucky enough to have secured so many prestigious logos like we have and it’s up to us to focus on them and scale big time. If we adopt customer centricity and cater to the needs, wants and emotions of the biggest stake-holders of any business- our customers, then we will be able to grow faster than competition and make every customer engagement a memorable experience.