How to Adopt a Customer-Centric Culture
As Peter Drucker stated: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. The existing organisational culture can be either an accelerator or deal-breaker for achieving impactful change.
When you change towards a customer-centric organization, which aims for genuine customer engagement, cultural differences are inescapable. Hence, a balanced culture change management approach is indispensable.Authors: Alexander Suykens & Sonja Noben
Diagnose and design a customer-centric state of mind
Organisational culture can only be influenced indirectly by focusing on incentives & behaviour. Creating a shift will not be easy, but possible. Taking in today’s events, you can think of a cellular model when introducing an unfamiliar customer-centric culture to an organisation. Inside the human body, we have antibodies that eliminate alien elements. Similarly, organisations will react to introducing a different culture (Sahota, 2018).
Organisational antibodies will work hard to preserve the status quo Alexander Suykens
Look first at case studies and examples of the customer-centric company that you want to become. What means ‘being customer-centric’ for your organisation? Afterwards, you will need to investigate today’s culture. Create your own target state and diagnose the current culture state. The organisational areas which are desperately in need of a customer-centric vaccine treatment will unveil themselves. This treatment comprises of three steps: setting the scene, introducing the vaccine & avoiding outbreaks.
Set the scene
To ensure success in the long-run, a shared senior leadership desire to embody the new customer-centric future is critical. This is your case for change within the “unhealthy” organisational areas. After securing this awareness and desire, prepare each unhealthy organisational area for change by:
- defining your change management strategy;
- preparing your change team;
- and building your community approach and impact assessment.
Introduce customer-centric vaccines
The next step is to introduce the change towards the entire workforce of the organisational area. We want all stakeholders to feel ready to “unleash the customer-centric culture!”
For that to happen, we need to establish three feelings amongst the workforce majority:
- a feeling of desire;
- a feeling they can take on these changes no matter what;
- and a feeling of a supportive community within the organisation.
These three feelings do not just happen by chance. Via a co-created and detailed change roadmap full of different activities, it is possible to foster such feelings incrementally. As culture emerges out of multiple underlying subcultures, it is advised to start making changes locally within various areas of the organisation.
Start to introduce ‘Customer-centric Bubbles’ which represent the ideal state. These bubbles will embrace an agile way of working that is able to quickly adapt to the needs of your customers.
This will lead to a clash of cultures comparable to Machiavellian antibodies attacking the unfamiliar culture within your body. Nothing will hold them back as the status quo justifies any means. Know that this approach is not sustainable in the long run. “What got you here, will not bring you there”. After creating enough bubbles with positive results, it’s time for a Big Bang.
Avoid old habit outbreaks
Ensure that the changed mindset and new way of working are sustained and fully embedded into the organisation. People are wired to return to previous habits, so it is essential to track and trace where your workforce is on the ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement) change management framework based scale of adoption.
Adoption dashboards with a select ensemble of metrics will visualise the outbreaks of old habits. These metrics will act as contact tracer alerts, maximising the retrospectives where you can set change improvement actions. At team or department level we suggest you visualize two metrics in particular. The Market Responsiveness Index (MRI) through a regular companywide survey which will show them how customer-centric they are. Another suggestion is showing them their scales of adoption: are they feeling highly aware? How is their attitude towards the changes? Are they feeling able to take up the changes ahead?
At program or enterprise level it’s important to visualize the impact on the business priorities with a balance between financials (e.g. Profit Growth, Profitability, Sales Revenue Growth, Customer RFM…) and non-financials (e.g. Customer Retention rate, Net Promotor Score, Customer Effort Score, Customer & Employee Satisfaction Score, Repurchase rate,…). This will enable your leadership to see the return on investment.
Keep calm and learn from others
Convinced your organisation is not up to the task? As said: culture change is difficult and hard, but possible. These companies show by example, it’s possible.
Not so long ago Starbuck’s was the worst in customer taste preference surveys, it launched ‘my Starbucks idea’. By focusing on customers, Starbucks changed its image to an ever-growing community of coffee-loving people.
+10 years ago, Domino’s was the worst in customer taste preference surveys. After inviting customers to share their views on the current recipe, they made a drastic update of their offering incorporating continuous feedback, with success.
The new CEO tore down existing walls between divisions, allowing them to share best practices and build new customer-centric products. Microsoft invested in products customers wanted, such as a more robust cloud networking system, and the rest is already history.
Are you looking for hands-on experience?
Ready for a customer-centric culture change? Ready to maximise service and product offerings by building relationships for and with your customers? Let us know! DigitalScaler has hands-on experience in implementing such changes.