You say you are customer centric, but are you really?

b2ap3_thumbnail_ID-100259358-courtesy-of-Stuart-Miles.jpgThe phrase “customer centricity” is a bit like the word “innovative”. Organisations say they are but there doesn’t seem to be any activity that exhibits it. Empathy is a key tenet of being customer led or customer inspired. Is empathy for your customers embedded in your culture?

Here’s 3 easy ways to show that you are truly inspired by your customers:

  1. Be Brave – Move away from your desk

    Do you use your desk as a sanctuary – a safe place where you analyse market research data and talk about the customer and what you think they need? Do you really know who your customer is and what problems they have? 

    Get away from your desk and out of the office – observe your customers in their world. If you can, shadow them as they move through their day, ask questions that enable them to tell you how they feel. What tensions exist?

    Challenge and test your own assumptions and bias. Share your new understanding with everyone. You’ll be amazed about the simple things you will find.

  2. Be bold – include your customers, users and partners in designing your strategy 

    So often organisations plan their strategy – the what and the how – in closed rooms. Extend who is involved in your strategy and business modeling sessions – not only to everyone in your organisation but also to your most valuable stakeholders – your customers. This is a bold move from traditional business planning and it in itself needs planning and different skills – but done well will reap rewards. 

    Use narratives to engage and involve your customers. This is a sure fire way to finesse your strategy and ensure everyone understands and is aligned your purpose. You may be surprised what you discover!

  3. Be “me” – really stand in your customer’s shoes by being ‘them’.

    Do you really believe in the product or service you sell?

    Allow a time and place for you and your staff to “test drive” what you are offering. Don’t stop there – enable them to openly share their feelings as a customer – the good and the opportunities to improve. This can be done by encouraging role plays and enabling staff to experience your product/service.

    There are some great examples of this that have reaped rewards. Methven installed a web lab that enabled employees to use their products and comment. Some hotel chains encourage staff to stay and try their service and rooms.

You may think this is not possible with the type of product you sell – think harder. When I worked at at Cochlear, the engineers developed a dummy sound processor that we could wear – experiencing the weight, day to day use and even how sounds changed with the different programs. It was a real eye opener and made me appreciate the product and what organisation delivered, even more.

Be brave, bold and be “me”

Being brave, bold and “me” will shed new light on your business and can build a culture of aligned purpose and satisfaction within. You may not always like what you hear, see or discover – but where there is an unexpected customer truth, there is also opportunity. Customer Led Innovation has some simple yet powerful tools and tricks to help you discover the customer in the 3 ways above. “Doing” customer centricity, not just saying it, will create a totally new way of thinking – it will develop new mindsets that intuitively place your customers at the heart of everything you do. Successful businesses grow not by selling to customers, but by learning from them.

Ask yourself today –

“What can I do today to truly understand my customer?”

“How can I be brave or be bold or be my customer?” 

Jane Cockburn focuses on building design-thinking capability within organisations and transforming how they work today. Jane has coordinated the the upcoming Design: The Power of Visual Communication workshop at Cochlear which is being facilitated by Marianne Boholt. This workshop is open to members and guests.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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