Customer-centric has become something of a buzzword. It's easy to believe in retail that we have little to learn. After all, we can only survive if we do a good job for customers. We measure customer satisfaction, and employ mystery shoppers. And by and large, we are focused on serving our customers in the stores.
However, being customer-centric means more than this. Across a retail business, decisions are being made all the time that in some way impact customers. A customer-centric business always prioritizes customers in these decisions, and indeed organizes the business around them. In trying to understand how customer-centric a business is, I always ask three questions:
1. Is the business immersed in the customer from the CEO down? It's all too easy away from the frontline to view customers in the abstract, yet thanks to technology it's never been easier for the whole business to hear the views of its customers. A customer-centric business values reading or hearing real customer commentary rather than just tracking customer satisfaction metrics.
2. Does the business prioritize customers in its decision-making? This doesn't have to be complicated. Whenever decisions are made, someone should always be asking "What's in it for the customer?" If the answer is usually not a lot, then it's not a customer-centric business.
3. Does the business focus on serving its existing customers? The traditional approach is to focus on finding as many customers as possible for the shopping trip on offer. In contrast, a customer-centric business constantly seeks to become more useful to its existing customers. As our world continues the fragment, becoming customer-centric is an essential first step to reinventing the traditional supermarket model.
So in preparation for the challenges of 2015, ask yourself: "How customer-centric is our business?"
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