The stated customer service value proposition in much advertising and branding endeavours differs from company to company, but fundamentally attempts to suggest to the prospective or current customer that “we are here for you”. We will do things smarter, better, faster and more professionally. We will make it easier for you. We will provide you with sustainable and seamless solutions. We will be your partner. We will take the complexity out of the process for you. We will help you succeed. One company even suggests to their clients that they will make all their dreams become a reality – quite a promise, but maybe not really achievable! Charles Green, co-author of Trusted Advisor, with some humour, suggests that many companies have the client focus of a vulture – “they pay close attention to what the clients are up to, but only in order to figure out the right time to pounce and tear at their flesh”.
Now, some service providers do indeed live up to the promises espoused in their respective brand and value propositions, but they seem to be few and far between. Most are dismal in meeting the needs of customers and seriously fail in areas like after-sales service, care, listening well, attention to detail, politeness, delivery promises and so on. There seems to be a lethargy and even apathy in terms of getting it right – frequently, that is, in customer approach, communication professionalism and checking on whether or not the customer is satisfied. These companies are simply not client-centric in the way that they operate.
Customer/client-centric companies (and other organisations) approach how they do business by focusing all that they do on the customer – ensuring that the customer is at the centre of their business philosophies, values, processes, operations and ideas. They believe that their clients are the foundational reason that they exist and use every means at their disposal to keep the customer satisfied. Although technology is changing the way that customers engage with companies, personal interaction still stands at the core of relationships with customers. Ernst & Young, in their publication on the insurance industry, note: “Overall, customers are looking for value to be clearly demonstrated, reflecting a balance of price, product features and service tailored to their needs. They prefer to buy more products from companies they trust. Once they have made their choice and established a relationship, they expect the provider’s products and services to meet their expectations – and through their channel of choice”. The customer-centric company thus creates products, processes, policies and a culture that is designed to support customers in their endeavours and to provide them with a great experience as they work towards their respective goals.
Customer-centricity involves designing the business from the customer’s perspective – starting with customers, not products. As such, the company will remain nimble and focused on customers’ changing needs and market conditions. Keeping customers at the core of every decision that is made and every action that is taken sends out the true “we are here for you” message.