In a recent article for Forbes, business trend forecaster Brian Solis describes “a circle” with a picture of a customer in the middle of it. This, he says, is how most of us define “customer centricity.” It’s a promise to consider the impact on our customers in everything we do.

Is that your current model? Beneath that compelling little graphic or statement, you probably have a long list of IT investments and process improvements that make it easier for customers to make purchases, access customer care, and otherwise engage with your brand.

That certainly sounds customer-centric. 

But… did those plans and decisions originate from – and validate against – input from your customers? Or even from credible market research about your customer base? Or were they largely conceived based on the requirements, opinions, and needs of your organization? Are they driven primarily by long-held beliefs, business goals, current systems, current talent, and legacy infrastructure?

Solis argues that often, the concept of customer centricity becomes confused with what is really driving key sales, service, and delivery decisions: company-centricity. In my line of work, I see this blurring of drivers often. When this happens, “companies wind up making customers conform to their standards of doing business, which isn’t by definition, customer-centric.” 

In other words, simply promising to put customers at the center of the business model is little more than a tagline. It just isn’t enough.

Yet the roadmap to becoming customer-centric begins with 3 simple steps that I’m paraphrasing from Solis and expanding here:

  1. Write your organization’s definition of customer centricity. Include the details. What do your customers truly need, expect, and demand from brands in general — and from your brand, specifically? What causes them to turn away from brands and your brand?
  1. Ask your customers for their definitions. Again, get the details.
  1. Compare these answers. Identify the gaps and areas of agreement.
  1. Close the gaps.

I said it was simple. I didn’t say easy.

As organizations go through these steps, a brand touch point of extreme customer vulnerability is the interaction with customer care. According to PwC’s 2022 customer loyalty survey, nearly one-third of consumers (32%) report that they have left a brand because “I had a bad experience with customer service.”

The solution, according to PwC? “More humanity would help.”

That’s an easy statement to misinterpret. But to be clear, the issue here isn’t that brands have become over-invested in or over-reliant on technology. Increasingly, consumers want the speed, control, and flexibility that AI-powered platforms give them.

It’s what happens for your customers when they do reach out to your customer care platform and interact with a human agent. The moment they hear that human voice, they expect a thoroughly human conversation. That includes empathy, problem-solving, and a warm voice that represents your brand.

While customers have always had these expectations, they spiked up dramatically, beginning with the panic and emotional turmoil of the pandemic. Since 2020, we have been seeing this need continue to grow.

Take the quiz. If you’re not yet delivering on what your customers expect, take a closer look at your customer care provider. Are they the kind of partner you need as you enter 2023? Are you unsure? In the same way that your own customers might be shopping around for a brand that serves them better, maybe it’s time for you to raise your customer service standards.

At Skybridge Americas, we have been investing in the people, technology, and processes to deliver superior customer experiences for customer-centric brands. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please reach out. We would love to talk!

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