How to transform into a Customer-centric Enterprise

Miriam Reichmuth


Let’s face it. The world we live in is changing dramatically. Changing consumer patterns, and the advent of social media and new digital business models change the way in which enterprises have to offer their products and services to their customers.

Customers are picky – more interested in getting value for their money. They are demanding – expecting acknowledgment that they are not just one of a crowd. They are disloyal – finding alternatives has never been easier. And they are wired – accustomed to instant response, they expect the same from the products and services they consume.

To survive in this new world, companies must break from the conventional thinking and redefine the notion of competitive advantage, identifying service as the real differentiator and key to success. And for that, the only option is to place the customer right into the center of their organization. Only the focus on a comprehensive understanding of the customers will allow best serving them and consequently succeed at the bottom line.

In traditional product centric settings, the sales and services channels hold the key to the customers. However, they have often insufficient tools to serve the customer’s needs and echo their voices to the rest of the organization. This has two consequences:

- First, in order to serve the customer, sales and services employees need to navigate through complex and often unknown processes and painstakingly explore layers of hierarchy and departmental silos to find answers to their customer’s questions. How many times will an email be bounced back and forth between departments? How will the solution look in the end? The element of luck can turn customer interactions into a corporate roulette, resulting in delayed action and low and uneven quality of response.

- Simultaneously, departments residing in the inner layers of the organizations, like R&D, production, legal or finance, only get access to filtered customer feedback, which prevents them from including the customer in their strategic decisions

Moving the customer to the center of the organization and introducing their voice as a pivotal strategic driver means enterprises must be truly interconnected. Each player must have the capacity to connect with other areas of the organization without barriers or uncertainties.

Once an enterprise understands how to ensure clever interconnection of their members, they can move the customer to the center of their organizational structure. It is easy to identify the right measures to transform into a collaborative culture.

-   Identifying the right person to ask at any given time becomes key to knocking down barriers between people, eradicating departmental silos and geographical boundaries.

-   Documenting tacit expertise and keeping it up-to-date warrants high quality service levels.

-   Ensuring all this happens automatically and with no need to manage profiles grants for a coordinated and controlled user experience.

The entire enterprise has the potential to benefit from the move towards this new and equal level of interconnection of all employees – shifting from a command-and-control mode to an active participation culture. In the near future enabling cross departmental, cross-geographic collaboration will no longer be optional to succeed. Jack Welch had it right when he said “Don’t manage - lead change before you have to.”

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