4 Customer Centric Culture Building Blocks

It’s popular to tout customer-centricity, yet it’s very difficult to consistently demonstrate. The word centric means having a specific thing as the focus of attention and efforts. Customer-centric means that concerns other than the customer’s well-being are in the background while the customer stays in the foreground.

That may seem simple enough, yet reality proves the elusiveness of customer-centricity. In Accenture’s Delivering the Promise study, 75% of executives viewed their customer service as above-average, while 59% of their customers reported their experience with these companies’ service as somewhat to extremely dissatisfying. Likewise, in CMO Council’s Customer Affinity study, half the companies said they are extremely customer-centric, but only a tenth of their customers agreed.

The building blocks of customer-centric culture are communication, skills, accountability and systems.

1. Communication. The vision and values that top management communicates, both verbally and behaviorally, set the tone and direction. What top management focuses on guides the thinking and efforts of the entire organization. The key is consistency: at every opportunity, continually communicate the necessity of making it easier and nicer for customers to get and use solutions. Consistency occurs in formal and informal meetings, written correspondence, external messages, and in every business process and every management ritual such as performance reviews, annual operating plans, performance dashboards, etc. Consistency builds trust and passion, which are necessary ingredients for true customer-centricity.

At Amazon.com, founder Jeff Bezos once began a meeting by announcing that an empty chair at the table represented the customer. Throughout the meeting, the executives were compelled to include the customer in the discussion, as if present. This became a habit – the group’s way of thinking and doing.

2. Skills. Customer-centric values and vision must be supported by proficiency in related technical and soft skills. Examine competency requirements for everyone – not just customer-facing roles – relative to your customer-centric values and vision. This includes channel partners, suppliers, and other external entities. Proficiency is the vital link between strategy and execution.

At Nordstrom, employees are selected on their capabilities to anticipate and meet people’s needs. They’re encouraged to try new approaches to selling and customer service, with the mantra use good judgment in all situations giving them a tremendous sense that they’re trusted to always do right by the customer.

3. Accountability. What gets rewarded gets done – whether the rewards are tangible or intrinsic. Interestingly, intrinsic rewards have proven to be more powerful in adjusting a group’s ways of thinking and doing. Risk tolerance and penalties also determine the degree to which customer-centricity takes root. Above all, monitor cause-and-effect and also perceptions of fairness in terms of logic and equity; these elements are pivotal to success.

At Enterprise Rent-a-Car, customer sentiment is measured at the rental office level. Only employees in offices that score at or above the overall company average are eligible for promotion, raises or bonuses. At EMC, achieving the target for their leading indicator of customer sentiment, system availability, is a go/no-go determinant of the bonus for the entire company.

4. Systems. Systems-thinking means acknowledging the big picture and linkages between its components. Scrutinize your business policies and procedures and tools for their contribution or detraction from the goal of making it easier and nicer for customers to get and use solutions. Systems include formal and informal inter-department communication and interactions and handoffs, and connections outside the enterprise.

At Dell, SVP of customer service Dick Hunter asked employees to send him notes about the inconsistent and dumb things the company was doing. Combining this input with customer’s verbatim comments to their call center led to significant changes in the customer experience.

Motives are at the heart of true or false customer-centricity. Customer-centricity as priority number one must permeate the entire business, and be un-challenged by other concerns as the organization’s primary focus of attention and efforts. All other goals are more likely to fall into place with consistent customer-centricity.

Top 5 Best Family Hotels in Berlin

Berlin is the capital and largest city in Germany and is famous for it’s history, with many museums and other historical sites to visit. The city is also well known for its night life with many bars and night clubs offering a variety of entertainment. There is a good reason that Berlin is one of the major tourist attractions in Germany.

Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Located across the street from the Charite Hospital this hotel is conveniently located a short 5 minute walk from the Naturkundemuseum Underground Station making it is to get around. A new hotel that just opened in late 2009 it offers apartment style accommodation with sound proof windows and flat screen televisions in every room.

Hotel Wittelsbach am Kurfurstendamm

Located in Wilmersdorf district this hotel has easy access to Tegel Airport with the Konstanzer Strasse located just down the street. There is excellent shopping located nearby on Kurfurstendamm street there are also a large number of restaurants located nearby. The rooms are all modern and include cable television and private bathrooms.

Adagio City Aparthotel Berlin Kurfurstendamm

Located near to the outstanding shopping of the Kurfurstendamm area and just down the street from the Uhlandstrasse underground station this hotel offers apartment style rooms. All rooms include a kitchenette, free wireless internet and satellite television and quests have access to the hotels fitness room.

A&O Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Located on a side street a short walk from the main train station this hotel is an excellent budget option for families. There are modern rooms with cable television, Wi-Fi and private bathrooms. The hotel is conveniently located near transportation connections making it easy to get to all of the cities major attractions.

Hotel Kubrat

Located near the Stadtmitte underground station and a short walk from Checkpoint Charlie this hotel provides easy access to all the major tourist attractions. Potsdamer Platz is within easy walking distance of the hotel. With apartment style accommodation this hotel is excellent for families. The rooms feature large balconies, cable television, internet access and a hair dryer.