Written by Ana Mateu for Buljan & Partners Consulting
I always like putting things into perspective. I guess it comes from my school days, and I find it very interesting and helpful. At times, it may seem distressing to realize that there is always more than one alternative, more than one side, more than one outlook, more than one way… However, practicing the art of perspective in everything in life can also be very rewarding.
I first came into perspective and its meaning in drawing class. It is of key importance when learning how to draw, to know how to place the objects in their framework.
When applying perspective to Customer Centricity, its own name implies that the Customer ought to be at the center of the picture. That is: at its core. The axes support the center, the angles flow and the whole picture is framed within the horizon line and the outlook of the viewer.
From the early days of commerce, the customer was the purpose of existence of any business. We say the horizon is the limit, and that would be: the potential of trade. However, during the course of time, this perspective has shifted and expressions such as “the customer is always right” have outlived its true meaning. It is sad for us to notice that the customer has slowly moved out of the core of the picture, leaving its space to stakeholders, vice presidents, managers and employees who are often in lack of empowerment. The picture of business has been reshaped in such a way that in numerous corporate presentations or annual reports, the word “customer” is only incidentally used here and there, forgetting that the true purpose of the business is receiving money in exchange of a product or service, and that this money comes from the customer.
All that is required in order to run a Customer Centric Organization is to shift the focus back to where commerce started and place the customer (and subsequent revenues) back at its core. The strategy applied by the corporation would paint the horizon line, indicating towards where the business wants to develop. The axes would be the support functions within a company (administration, finance, HR…) that sustain the framework, maintaining the core in the center. The flows that give the impression of depth are the communications with the customer (sales and services departments), which need to be aligned from the outlook of the viewer (the stakeholders) towards the horizon or target.
It is not too complex, and more importantly, this shift in perspective which might seem daunting at first for stakeholders, fearing of losing their prominence, will result in stronger businesses with more loyal customers. Yes, the customer might not always be right, but there is always a right way to translate it and make them feel they received an added value from our company, even if that means pointing them towards another company which can better meet their needs. This way, when their needs will evolve, they will already have a point of reference of having experienced a professional advice which helped them in the past. If our horizon line is to be on top of the customer´s mind when considering of requesting our services, a well-drawn framework will ensure it happens, if not now, later; perspective never fails. Any business which is here to stay needs to incorporate this art into their everyday.
When did you last check your perspective?