Written by Björn Neumann (@CCMTechnology) for Buljan & Partners Consulting
What is customer centric technology? How is it applied and how can it support customer centric organizations?
In a nutshell customer centricity is aligning all business activities with customer activities, needs or issues. Customer centric organizations understand their customers, put them at the top of their strategy and set them at the center of their values. Customer centric companies generate (additional) revenue by putting customers at the core of every process to better reach, engage and satisfy them.
Based on this definition, technology in and around customer centric organizations is about supporting the full organization and all business processes based on customers’ needs, requirements, touch points and decisions. The customer usually is the final consumer, and – in a wider definition – it can be also an internal or external employee or partner.
Well designed and applied, customer centered technology usually is an opportunity. It appears in many different facets: it can be or support an outstanding customer experience or it can be an enabler. It can be an innovation driver or a competitive advantage. It may be an image, a sales driver or a unique selling proposition.
Technology enables customer experiences and customer journeys, and properly designed it helps to sell more products or services on the way. Being a customer centric organization itself (still) is an innovation, the supporting technology must be as well. Applying customer centered technology – whether products, services, applications or systems – can be of a huge value to a company’s image. Customer centric technology enables customer centered employees making better and faster decisions.
There are hundreds of companies representing the above stated aspects. When searching for customer centric companies, we always end up naming companies like Amazon.com, Apple, FedEx, Harley Davidson, Lexus, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks or Zappo, to mention only a few of the top ones. Look at their technology. Can you see a difference between their and your company’s technology? You can definetly feel their devotion towards customers when looking at their products or services, at their web pages, their hotlines or their booking and ordering systems.
Customer centric organizations are also aware of the risks of ignoring their customer centric technology strategy. If not managed, implemented, integrated or tested right, they are facing soon loss of credibility, a missing back-office integration, loss of opportunities, increase of complaints and, of course, higher costs. At this point I want to spare you with the thousands of negative examples, which can easily be found in the World Wide Web or in literature. Only consider this: think of your today’s way to work or day at work and all the systems, applications and technology which turned out to give you more problems than solutions.
In summary, being a customer centric organization means to align, design and implement a specific customer centric technology strategy. The strategy must be fully in line with the overall customer centric strategy. The structure of how and whom the technology must support, has to be thoroughly planned and implemented. The enabling must be challenged every time towards its customer related purpose. The risks should be known, evaluated and managed going along with its deployment.