How to Become a Customer-Centric Business – and Why It Matters

Mar 8, 2024 | Listen

How to Become a Customer-Centric Business - and Why It Matters

Do you have a customer-centric business, or is the focus on customers just lip service?

While many companies say they are all about customer satisfaction, few manage to embed this mindset or philosophy deeply across all departments.

But in today’s business landscape where customer experience can make or break your brand, being genuinely customer-centric is non-negotiable.

So, what does it mean to truly prioritize customers? What impact does it have on your business?

How can you make your team – even those who are not customer-facing – think about customers? and what do you need to do to fully and efficiently implement it in your business?

Chris Hood: Customer-Centric Thought Leader

In today’s episode, our guest Chris Hood shares his insights on how you can foster a customer-centric mindset throughout your entire organization. As a speaker and thought leader who has guided many companies, Chris defines what it means to prioritize customers and uncovers its impact on your business finances. He provides actionable steps and practical advice in the form of a 7-step framework for implementing customer-centric practices effectively in your business.



Timestamps for this week’s episode

02:07  – Developing a customer-centric environment in your business

04:33 – Growing a customer-centric mindset in non-customer-facing departments 

11:18 – Chris Hood’s customer-centric framework for your business

30:33 – Debunking the Customer is Always Right Myth

35:41 – Actionable steps to take to become a customer-centric business

“A customer-centric company is when the entire organization is empowered and is responsible for ensuring customer success.” – Chris Hood


Developing a customer-centric environment in your business

To develop a customer-centric environment in your business, make sure that every department prioritizes customer success. This includes those departments that are not traditionally customer-facing, including human resources and finance. Every team member should contribute to delivering exceptional customer service and experiences.

How do you build that culture? It starts at day zero. It starts before somebody even comes into your organization, as you're starting to hire and look at candidates.

Growing a customer-centric mindset in non-customer-facing departments

Start from day zero of the employee journey – even before employees join your organization. Human resources can help in this process by making sure there is alignment between hiring practices and the company’s mission. 

Prioritize candidates who are skilled but are also a cultural fit during the hiring process. Probe this culture-fit quality further by integrating questions about how the candidates see their role in supporting customer satisfaction.

“If you say “we’re a customer-centric organization”, that sticks. It doesn’t matter what the mission is…that’s going to resonate. Make your customers happy, grow your business.” – Chris Hood

A customer-centric framework for your business

This framework emphasizes starting with the customer and working inward, ensuring that every aspect of the business is aligned with customer needs and expectations.

  1. Customer

Start with the customer. Identify their needs, problems, and aspirations before anything else.

  1. Interfaces

Think about how the customer will interact with your business, including technology and other touchpoints.

  1. Journey

Map out your customer’s journey or experience with your product or service, from start to finish.

  1. Ecosystem

Think about the bigger picture in which your business operates, including partnerships and community relationships.

  1. Culture

Foster a culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction and success.

  1. Technology

Use technology solutions that support and enhance the customer experience, aligning with their needs and expectations.

  1. Business

Generate value for your business by always giving customers exactly what they want and need effectively.

The bias of what you feel you should be doing and then pushing that out onto your customer is wrong.

Debunking the Customer is Always Right Myth

Chris Hood challenges the notion that “the customer is always right,” suggesting a more practical approach to handling customer feedback. 

While getting customer input is important, he advises against blindly catering to every demand. Instead, strive to make strategic decisions based on the bigger picture, and check trends and patterns. 

These decisions must also align with your overall business strategy. If you prioritize the needs of your core customer base over individual preferences, your business will more likely achieve sustainable growth and long-term success.

“Include your customers in the transformation process, get their voices involved in decision-making. That way you’re not liable to change because of some other “mystical reason” that doesn’t resonate with them.” – Chris Hood

Actionable steps to take to become a customer-centric business

  • Decide to become a customer-centric business at the CEO level, and let it flow down to every team member.

  • Integrate customer-centric activities into your daily operations, from thinking like a customer in team meetings for deeper insights to also becoming actual customers of your business.

  • Use symbolic representations, such as an empty seat in meetings, to remind everyone of the customer’s presence to get everyone acting and thinking for the benefit of the customer.

  • Foster a culture where every decision considers the customer’s viewpoint. This promotes empathy with the customer and keeps you in sync with what they actually want and need. 

  • Implement it in every aspect of your company, from your hiring practices, feedback mechanisms, and even your performance metrics to show that the company is committed to customer-centricity.

Summary

  • Ensure every department prioritizes customer success, fostering a culture of exceptional service.

  • Start from day zero, aligning hiring practices with your values to establish a customer-centric team.

  • Start with the customer and work inward, considering interfaces, journey, ecosystem, culture, technology, and business value.

  • Challenge blind customer appeasement, and focus on strategic decisions based on trends and business strategy.

  • From top-down commitment to daily practices, ensure every aspect of the business prioritizes the customer.

Transcript

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About guest – Chris Hood

Digital Strategist, Podcast Host and Author

Chris Hood, a keynote speaker, strategist, and thought leader in customer-centric cultures, artificial intelligence, and innovation, boasts over three decades of experience in business development. The author of ‘Customer Transformation,’ Chris, provides a roadmap to customer alignment and business value, articulating a transformative seven-stage strategy. 

As the Founder and CEO of Synsible AI, Chris spends his time helping businesses leverage AI and reach 10x thinking. Former roles include heading Google’s Digital Business Strategy, crafting transformation programs for Fortune 500 companies, and developing storytelling technologies at Fox Broadcasting & Disney for popular shows such as Glee, American Idol, 24, and Gotham. 

Currently, Chris shares his insights on ‘The Chris Hood Digital Show’ and ‘Customer Transformation Live,’ helping businesses worldwide accelerate their digital potential and alignment with customers. 

As a co-founder of Blind Squirrel Games, his influence stretches across multiple industries. Beyond consulting, Chris imparts his knowledge to Southern New Hampshire University students, bridging the gap between business and technology.

Website: https://chrishood.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrishood/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrishood1

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/chrishood

Author of Customer Transformation: https://chrishood.com/product/customer-transformation-hardcover-book/?swcfpc=1

Podcast | The Chris Hood Digital Show  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-chris-hood-digital-show/id1671355874


About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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