Many company leaders don’t know the difference between front-line customer focus and real customer centricity (and some don’t seem to care). This leads to devastating results.
These days many companies collect a large amount of data from customers and use this to analyze to what extent they are customer-centric. This includes customer satisfaction data, customer advocacy metrics like net promoter scores and other customer feedback related to customer interactions with the company.
They fail to realize that these data averages are only a small part of the picture – and not the most important part.
Authentic customer centricity is a culture across all parts of a business that reflects a mindset that believes “what’s best for the customer is best for the business”. It also requires employee behaviors and company processes in every business unit, function, and level endeavor to meet the needs of their customers. Also to provide value for money and deliver a consistently great customer experience – before, during and after all customer interactions.
The current Royal Commission into banking practices in Australia has unearthed some very unsavory practices – charging fees to some customers for services they never received, continuing to charge fees on customer accounts after people have died – and continuing these practices over several years. It is also uncovering the “bad” advice for some clients by some financial planners – something already uncovered in previous investigations. This is clearly a failure of leadership either governed by self-interest or not really have the customers’ interests at heart.
Why is this persisting? It is because many leaders in this industry do not understand the difference between front-line customer focus and real customer centricity!
These same banking organizations have studied their own customer service scores and concluded they are customer-centric. They fail to realize that weaknesses in customer culture can be devastating. Even now at the early stages of this banking investigation, customer and community trust in banks is dramatically reduced and their share prices have dropped.
It is time leaders spend some time understanding this difference and taking action with all their employees to embed a true customer first culture in all parts of their businesses. If they don’t they will inevitably suffer the fate of the banks – more regulation, lost community trust, reduced profitability and customers lost to industry disruptors.