By Sanjiv Anand and V. Ramkumar
While we may hear several organisations claiming to be customer focused, it is easy to observe not many are. The success of building a customer focused organisation is not just in defining who your customers are, but in also creating a culture in the organisation that is oriented towards servicing them effectively and investing in the measurement of customer service.

The first step is to determine, at a broad level, what the different segments of customers that are being catered to are, and what appeals to them. It’s not too uncommon to notice the one-size-fits-all model adopted by organisations that do not make the effort to segment their customers, which implies undifferentiated pricing structures, and no surprises, obviously resulting in an indifferent customer behaviour. Defining customer segments is critical for implementing meaningful customer focused initiative
The next step is to understand what the various touch points are through which the customers interact with the organisation. This helps in defining how we differentiate our services at the point of interaction and ensure the customer appreciates that he’s important to the organisation. One example is how a high-value customer is ensured the best services at the service outlet, just the same way as he was received at the sales centre of an auto-dealer.

Underlying to any interaction efficiency are the customer service processes. Customers are sensitive to how they are serviced across channels. Having clarity on what services can be offered and how each of them can be delivered, within what timelines and at what price is all key, especially when you function in a centralised model of operation. The kind of services rendered by banks across each channel they operate – branch, ATM, contact centre, Internet, kiosk, etc – is an example here. Critical to deliver these is automation. Customer service quality can be your differentiator when technology is best leveraged. Customer relationship management solutions also play an important role in having a holistic picture of the customer.

While all of the above are the foundations for building a good customer service framework, the most important aspect of building a customer focused culture is having an organisation that drives, measures and communicates important metrics on a periodic basis. People respond to what is inspected, not just what is expected. If customer service has to be effective, it needs to be measured.

While it may be difficult to have all your customers always happy, you can definitely make a difference to the quality of service rendered to loyal customers who are important to the organisation, if the metrics that pertain to them are separately tracked.

While tapping the right customer segment, nurturing and retaining them, ensuring a high service quality level are all important to building a loyal customer base, organisations who are successful in doing so are those who invest in building a customer focused culture: Key to building is in communicating to the employees that their performance is measured on that basis, and the reward structure is also strongly linked.


– Sanjiv Anand is the managing director and V. Ramkumar is a director at Cedar Management Consulting International.

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