Change Associates' recent research into the drive by many organisations to achieve a customer centric culture identified five key challenges facing organisations. Through interviews with organisations with a strong track record in optimising the customer experience and conversations with subject matter experts, we drew out ten ways in which organisations could address these challenges.
One of these ‘drivers’ was to Make a Deal.
Making a deal might seem like an old-fashioned concept but it serves to illustrate some of the fundamentals of making customer centricity work. When we shake hands on a deal, both sides look each other in the eye with a clear understanding of what is expected of each other. Both sides can expect to benefit, if they each keep their side of the bargain.
So, a deal is based on mutual respect and trust that will be consolidated with each subsequent successful deal, creating a loyal relationship to which all parties are committed; the organisation, its employees and customers buy into a shared understanding that has been termed the 'Shared Value Proposition'.
How can an organisation encapsulate these shared values, once they have identified them, in such a way that embeds them in all communications and interactions?
The Answer is Brand.
Brand is not something that the operational side of the organisation can dismiss as marketing fluff or simply a projected image; it is one of the essential drivers in a customer-centric world. And it must be authentic or it will never be delivered.
The brand, therefore, must reflect the genuinely held shared values of the organisation that represent what matters most to the customer. In this way, a brand becomes a way of building solidarity with their customers beliefs and reflect what they want to experience in each interaction, rather than a message that is forced upon them.
Jeff Bezos, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Amazon.com, once memorably said:
"Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room."
The implication is that actively managing a brand is increasingly difficult in a socially networked world. Only by working with customers – and employees – to ensure the customer experience reinforces brand values can you shape that brand.
If this is something that chimes with you and/or any of the organisations you work with, you might want to read more about the challenges and recommendations that our research revealed in our full report, part of our Octagon series of research papers: