The 5 Elements of a Customer-Centricity Model

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With few organizations being cited for great customer experiences today, companies need to increase their focus on customer-centricity, firmly embedding it into their corporate cultures and operating models, consulting firm PwC urges in a new report.

Samrat Sharma, a PwC marketing transformation leader, uncovered a strong correlation between companies offering great customer experiences and those having positive financial results. CX leaders showed five times the revenue growth of CX laggards.

Customer-centricity is essential in producing positive returns, according to PwC, which defines customer-centricity as strategically coordinating aspirations and making specific choices around capabilities, systems, operating models, and cultures.

However, too many firms see customer-centricity as an attempt for customer service to be all things to all people, which PwC says is incorrect, expensive, and confusing to customers and employees and rarely works.

Rather than trying to be all things to all people, companies should focus some of that effort on enhancing employee experience, the consulting firm recommends. Key employees should be mobilized to exceed the expectations of the company’s most important customers in meaningful, interconnected ways.

PwC also recommends that companies use consistent messaging, make clear up-front decisions, and consciously reinforce a customer-centric approach, all of which will help avoid confusing their employees.

Companies’ customer-centric approaches should align with their brand strategies, PwC adds, noting that metrics should also reflect their models, which can be vastly different from one company to the next.

“To make the most of your investment, remember to also empower your employees by encouraging and rewarding the right behaviors,” PwC recommends. “Start by understanding what kind of customer-centricity model will work most effectively in your organization.”

Then, PwC emphasizes that organizations should consider which emotions they are trying to elicit from customers and which ones are most likely to prompt customers to return.

Customer-centricity models should also include a system of metrics that are specific to each organization and its strategy, PwC says. Traditional metrics, like Net Promoter Score (NPS), are no longer sufficient for organizations that truly want to differentiate themselves from their competition on customer service.

PwC instead recommends using a combination of surveys and artificial intelligence to make sense of unstructured data (including social media, messaging, and voice-to-text) to tell whether companies are indeed eliciting the customer emotions they want.

PwC outlines the following five elements that can make up a customer-centricity model:

  • Innovation, focusing on what it calls intrapreneurship (entrepreneurship within the company), which in turn receives business from employee contributions.
  • Consistency, providing a very high-impact, high-quality customer service with a very routine process. A coffee company, for example, should deliver its products to the customer on a regular schedule, and the products should always have the same taste and quality.
  • Intimacy, the ability to build a personal and emotional connection with customers. A furniture company, for example, could do this by using images of one of its products being enjoyed inside the customers’ home environment.
  • Empowerment, fostering an environment in which employees feel empowered within the organization and know they contributed to the success of that organization.
  • Purpose, focusing on sharing communal values with a company’s customer base, engaging in social or environmental advocacy to drive customer loyalty.

Though companies’ individual natures or marketing strategies might drive them to focus a little more on one of these areas, Sharma says firms should try to use some combination of all five.

“There is no golden metric for customer-centricity,” Sharma concludes. “In addition to knowing your customers, concentrate on empowering your employees, from frontline workers to management teams.” 

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