Many aspire, some understand, but only a few truly do. Despite all the proclamations, catchy advertising slogans, and customer service publicity, service levels have improved only marginally (if that) in the last few years.

In highly customer-centered organizations customer perceptions of value are key drivers of resources, priorities, and management time. These organizations are managed from the outside in. “Soft perceptions” are turned into hard, manageable data through a disciplined and rigorous management system.

Customer-centeredness can be boiled down to three steps:

  1. Identify current key customers.
  2. Uncover and prioritize customer and expectations.
  3. Using their ratings of current effectiveness to identify performance gaps.

Signs That an Organization Isn’t Customer-Centered:

  • Little market and customer group segmentation.
  • The total customer experience is lost in departmental silos or technology mazes.
  • Processes, structure, and systems are managed from the inside out.
  • Limited customer data, complaint systems, or tracking mechanisms.
  • Heavier investments in customer acquisition than retention.
  • Discounting customer views as “not reality, just their perception.”
  • Customers are impersonally treated as “consumers,” “accounts,” “files” (or worse), not people.
  • Customer expectations and feedback aren’t weighted or ranked.

Keys to Being Customer-Centered:

  • Service/quality is all about perception. Who matters most?
  • Use your customers’ list of preferences or expectations.
  • Perceived value is the combination of basic product/service (requirements), support (satisfaction), and enhanced service (delight).
  • Map the total customer experience above and below the line of customer sight.
  • Integrate technologies (like e-commerce) with internal/external partners and systems/processes.
  • Involve key customers in new product/service development efforts early and often.

Click here for additional resources on Customers.

Click on each area below for more information on the Strategic Improvement Planning Process and Gap Analysis for your organization: