Develop a customer-centric culture with customer-centric policies

Creating customer-centric culture has become an important focus in customer experience. The first step down this road begins with a close look at company policies.

Companies often wax poetic about their customer-centric policies and their desire to put customers at the forefront....

But holding this as a valued principle is different from creating a customer-centric culture through customer-centric company policies.

At the same time, customers don't care about a company's policies, rules or issues. They just want seamless customer experiences in whichever communication channel they choose to communicate in. The importance of a customer-centric culture is underscored by recent Econsultancy data indicating that respondents think a customer-centric culture is more important (58%) than a data-driven one (40%).

The trick is for companies to craft policies that promote a customer-centric culture without creating artificial governance rules or overly complex policies. Keeping customers at the center seems obvious, but it can devolve quickly without the right strategy.

One company that has put money and policy behind its commitment to better its consumer experience via corporate policy is Chick-fil-A, which is the highest-scoring restaurant brand in the U.S. Customer Experience Excellence rankings.

The company spends more than a $1 million evaluating its service. In addition to traditional focus groups, the company conducts a quarterly phone survey with customers from each restaurant. Each location receives a two-page report detailing what's working and what needs improving.

"My business grew on the understanding that customers are always looking for someone who is dependable, polite and will take care of them," S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, said.

The company has a dedicated area on its site for Chick-fil-A stories. Additionally, its 80,000-square-foot Hatch Innovation and Learning Center is dedicated to helping the company invent next-generation customer experiences.

Marketing can't deliver a great customer experience independent of sales, service and any other part of the organization.
Jake SorofmanGartner analyst

Chick-fil-A has imbued its physical environment with the customer to create a customer-centric environment. But part of the effort also involves data and technology. Indeed, according to data by the CMO Council, companies need to do a better job of integrating customer data, often big data, and join it from where it resides in various functional silos.

According to the survey, 52% of respondents said that lack of integration among data silos was getting in the way of a truly customer-centric culture.

Customer-centric takeaways

Here are three takeaways for companies to successfully develop a true customer-centric culture:

  1. Make it a priority to challenge your corporate policies and procedures to determine whether they are creating obstacles or facilitating employees' ability to provide the best possible customer experiences.
  2. Regularly engage consumers in real-life customer experience surveys and conversations to determine what is and isn't working -- listen, learn, make changes.
  3. Do you have a formal training to make sure your customer service strategy is put into action, with clear benchmarks to measure success? If the answer is no, then address that issue immediately.

"Marketing can't deliver a great customer experience independent of sales, service and any other part of the organization. ... Without a holistic approach, you are really only hoping that you can deliver a great experience," Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman said.

Marketers in every industry need to challenge corporate structure to understand where legacy policies are building barriers to, rather than enabling, customer engagement.

For more check out ERDM Voice of the Customer research.

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