Digital transformation is one of the most widely-used buzzwords of the past two years, and has been used to describe everything from comprehensive technology overhauls to minor upgrades to tools and processes.
When it comes to customer-centricity, there is little middle ground in terms of transformation. Transformation means different things to different people, and the extent to which an organization is able to truly change its operations depends on executive buy-in and openness to growth. To enjoy the benefits of a customer-centric approach — increased customer lifetime value, improved customer satisfaction and enhanced revenues — companies and executives need to commit to a comprehensive change in mindset and strategy.
We’ve written previously about what data scientists and marketers can do to build momentum and gain executive buy-in for customer-centric transformation. But what do the executives themselves need to know from the beginning of this huge change? Here are the top five things a C-suite leader should keep in mind as they take a new approach to their business:
1. Your starting point matters less than you might think
Taking the time to lay the groundwork for a new business initiative is important, but fixating on finding the perfect conditions and assets for customer-centric transformation can lead to wasted time and delayed progress. The first steps toward customer-centricity don’t require rich, detailed data assets — as CDPa Founder Megan Kohout mentioned in a recent interview, something as simple as customer email addresses can provide the basis for new customer-centric strategies.
2. You’ll need to set the tone
One of the most common obstacles to business transformation is organizational inertia. Even well-meaning employees who want to see the company succeed can slip into old habits and existing processes. To avoid this happening, it’s vital for company executives to establish their support for the new practices. It’s impossible to over-communicate during a customer-centric transformation — setting the tone through frequent, visible displays of support will make it easier for other employees to change their approaches.
Executives should be open to what the data might reveal about their customers and strategies.
3. You may be surprised by what you uncover
Data doesn’t lie, and a frequent misconception among those who first begin their customer-centric journey is that their customer data should back up existing strategies and campaigns. Instead of looking for confirmation that the “business as usual” approach is correct, executives should be open to what the data might reveal about their customers and strategies. While it may be uncomfortable in the short term, customer data will provide a clear path to improved business outcomes in the long term.
4. You don’t have to go by the book
No two businesses are the same, and there’s no single prescription for customer-centric success. Executives can help lead their transformation in the right direction with clearly defined goals and priorities. One way to take a hands-on approach would be to work with data and customer experience leaders to specify which questions should be answered by the customer data. This process will help to create a series of steps that are tailored specifically to the needs of the business.
5. Your journey is never quite finished
It would be tremendously satisfying to be able to pronounce a customer-centric transformation a complete success and to declare “mission accomplished”. Unfortunately, these evolutions are never cut and dry. While a customer-centric organization should be able to highlight successes and proof points, there will always be more insights to uncover and more areas to refine. This shouldn’t be a point of frustration — instead, view this as a never-ending opportunity to deliver more value to customers and drive more revenue for the company.
To learn more about change management in customer-centric transformations, revisit this previous CPDa blog post. Stay tuned for future insights from CDPa Founders and other experienced executives on how they navigated their own journeys to customer-centricity.