Definition of Customer Centricity

Customer-CentricJames Dodkins, Chief Customer Officer at the BP Group, recently posed the question “What do YOU define customer centricity to be? What qualifies as a customer centric organisation?

My ‘off-the-cuff’ response was “One where a customer’s needs are consistently met. And if, on the rare occasion they are not, recovery is swift and sincere.”

A couple of days later Maz Iqbal questioned whether being Customer Centric was necessarily a good thing in a very personal and thought provoking post. In my eyes Maz makes a similar argument to that of whether Hitler was a Leader or not. A question that has been argued for and against by Leadership theorists for decades generally on the basis of principle that a true Leader can only lead for good and not evil or it does not matter either way – a Leader is a Leader.

Yes organisations can be focused or centered on customers for the wrong reasons – for example they may have no intention of creating value for customers and are simply chasing “bad profits”. But  proponents of Outside In or Customer Centricity would argue this is fundamentally against the principles of Outside In / Customer Centricity.

At the end of the day, its all about the definition of terms, just agree yours with those you interact with and move forward.

2 Comments on “Definition of Customer Centricity

  1. Hello Ben,
    I thank you for referencing in my thinking on customer-centricity. Yes, I do have question marks over the value-worth-impact-benefits of customer-centricity. However, I find myself in disagreement with you when you say that “maz makes a similar argument to whether Hitler was a leader or not.”

    Let’s take a television as an example. Yes, there are plenty of folks in discussion-agreement-disagreement over whether this ‘object’ here is a television. So we have what I call definitional arguments – what makes a chair a chair. That is not a conversation that interests me.

    My exploration of customer-centricity was in a completely different domain. Sticking with the chair example. My exploration was one of “You have turned up in my house and are offering me a smart television along with all kinds of channels. It sounds enticing. But hold on. Is this gift/offer made for my benefit – because you care for my welfare. Or are you offering me this tv package so that you can get me addicted to watching tv and ‘pick my pocket’?” So mine was a question of motive, intention, who benefits, who pays the price.

    My central assertion is that one must not blindly assume that the rationale-motive behind customer-centricity is the welfare of the customer. It is most likely to be for the welfare of those running corporations: the Tops.

    Returning to your example Hitler. I am clear that Hitler was a leader. The question I am asking is this one: Did he exercise leadership for the benefit of the German people? Or was his leadership motivated by lust for his personal glory and immortality?

    At your service | with my love
    maz

    Like

  2. Hi Maz, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I didn’t expect anybody to be! I understand your reply and I’m in agreement. I did understand the premise of your original post to be one of intent which is the dichotomy I was attempting to make in reference to the Hitler argument.

    I was coming from the point of view that the argument about whether Hitler was indeed a leader or not, is often an argument about whether someone can be considered a leader if their intent is not positive outcomes for their subjects. Or in other words, can a company be considered customer centric if their intent is not positive outcomes for their customers. And positive outcomes from the subject/customers point of view.

    My view in some respects has been shaped from other leaders in the customer experience industry whom would argue that the label of “customer centric company” can/should only be given to those companies with an intent for positive outcomes for their customers. If it is not driven by the welfare of their customers then they should not be considered or labelled as customer centric.

    I tend to agree with you, that Hitler was indeed a leader although one with negative intent for at least some of his subjects and much intent driven by personal ego. By the same token it would be hypocritical of me not to consider companies with a customer focus as being customer centric, albeit with an intent driven by their own agendas and not that of creating shared value for customers. So the secondary question of ‘what is/was their intent?’ is very important if, after first answering yes to the question of ‘were/are they are leader/customer centric?’.

    Apologies if my dichotomy was unfitting or unclear, it was not my intent! My intent is to learn, so thank you Maz 🙂

    Like

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