Written by Silvana Buljan for Buljan&Partners
The first decade of the 21st century is over, and it has left the globalized world in a paralysis of analysis – we have been so busy with defining the most effective economic models, optimized processes and efficient management standards, all driven by innovative technology. What has been a revolution in production in the 80s and 90s has moved to a fast-moving automation of human interaction, with social networks being on top of the list. Our thrill to show that our brains are more and more developed with each new generation causes a growing alienation from the essence of the human being – emotions.
What does this have to do with customer centricity? Isn´t THE customer himself part of this world, asking for immediate response to any question about products and services, and if it is not given comments in the social world start to be penetrated? For the last three decades companies have established CRM policies focused on loyalizing and capturing customers, converting personal customer information into targeted marketing messages to drive sales. Service has become more easy as customer preferences, incidents and all interactions are tracked in intelligent databases. But what has happened to the dance of emotions between persons interacting with each other? We give no importance to this anymore…. Today, each company proudly shows figures: KPIs, BSCs, value of shares, share of wallet, market share, … I could go on and on. Emotions are a tabu in today´s organizations, even if the first book about emotional intelligence was a best-seller – we are educated to perform, to be great leaders, to increase company growth, and to have an excellent customer oriented culture!
For the year 2012, the truth is that the majority of big organizations lives in crisis, and I do not mean the economic or financial crisis, I´m referring to the internal crisis of ethics and morale. It seems that anything in management is allowed if sales performance is a underdog, and “productivity” of staff is the first KPI to be measured and optimized. As long term business models that build on a “culture of committment” between management and staff are not considered sustainable in times of crisis, short term measures to increase productivity are applied, mostly characterized by mass lay-offs or so called “re-organizations”. Again, what does this have to do with customer centricity?
Customer centric management does not only mean listening to the customer I want to sell to, it especially means enabling and empowering my internal customer – my employee – do deliver memorable (positive) experiences in each customer interaction. And this is all about HR, about motivation, about ethics and morale when interacting in our so professional world…. We could handle the economic crisis better if we would all have a sense of being in the same boat, from the captain to the scullion. This needs mutual trust, and building trust is not achieved by optimized processes, but with a mature organization, where standing up for my own ideas and ideals is not considered as politically incorrect, but as a virtue. Where saying no too unrealistic growth targets is considered as long term vision for organic stability instead of weakness or fear of failure.
True customer centricity does exist though: all over the world we have great examples of family-run / social responsible / internal customer oriented businesses that survive in crisis because of a common goal between management and staff: create longterm value.