LSA Global Insights Newsletter: How Serious Are You About a Customer-Centric Culture?

5.23.2016

How Serious Are You About a Customer-Centric Culture?

Photo of a hotel front desk with a bell for attention in the foreground

Just about every company these days claims to be "customer-centric."    

They talk about being hyper-focused on doing the right thing for their clients at all times. Unfortunately it does not take long for many customers and employees to feel they are not the central focus of their company. And it often takes only one bad client experience magnified by social media to paint a completely different picture from the one the company would like to prmote and live.  

While customer-centricity makes sense for many businesses, we often find two major issues with the "customer-centric culture" claim. First, too many companies only pay lip service to putting the customer first. They have good intentions but poor execution. Second, too many companies would be better served strategically if they put something else first - e.g. their employees, operational excellence or product innovation.  

Issue #1: Only Giving Lip Service to Putting the Customer First
Let's start with too many companies paying lip service to strategically, culturally and operationally putting the customer first. It's like the hotel that places a bell on the counter for customers to ring when they need help. But their front desk clerks are consumed by tasks that keep them focused on their screens and not on approaching guests. These employees are most likely guided and measured by conflicting operational rules and rewards, not by a customer-centric organizational culture that promotes, lives, breathes and rewards true customer service.  

Why would this happen? There are a few good reasons.  

  • First of all, it is not easy to create a consistent client experience that delights customers. This is especially true now that personalized online and offline experiences are required to fully deliver on customer-centric brand promises. Nor is it cheap - organizations spend millions measuring and improving customer satisfaction.
  • Secondly, many businesses consider customer service a support function and a cost center. In doing so, they typically measure and reward employees based upon operational and financial metrics that trump customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. Many contact centers, for example, over-measure and over-reward call volume and speed of first call resolution versus contact quality and client satisfaction. This is often short-sighted.  

Building customer loyalty however, makes good business sense. Research shows that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can boost profits by as much as 25% to 85%. Satisfied clients lead to greater profitability and higher growth. 

Issue #2: Being Better Served Strategically by Putting Something Else First - e.g. Employees, Operational Excellence or Product Innovation 
Don't get us wrong. We think measuring and exceeding client expectations is an extremely important ingredient to every successful business. 

With that said however, you cannot do it all. And different companies have different target clients and different value propositions. Walmart and Costco, for example, are fundamentally focused on offering the lowest possible prices, not necessarily the best customer experience. Their loyal customers know and appreciate this and are willing to make the trade-off.  

The customer experience bar is therefore purposefully set lower for Walmart and Costco than other brands like Gucci, Banana Republic or Whole Foods.

Read about Tactics to Consider if You Want to Create a Customer-Centric Culture

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned