The “Customer-Centric” Philosophy

It seems obvious, but obviously it isn’t, that customers or clients are the most important part of every business, and it’s very easy for a customer to discover, by staff member attitudes, whether the company feels their customers are their primary focus or an annoyance.

Serving or supplying customers is the only reason any business exists.  Those that are centered on the needs and desires of customers are “customer-centric”.  They serve customers well and work hard at impressing and pleasing them.  If they do it well, they flourish, because they retain their customers, however businesses that “just go through the customer-service motions” or take advantage of customers eventually wither away as customers defect and go where they are served with quality, value, and respect.

It’s easy to say something like, “We put our customers first” and it’s quite another thing to work to prove that axiom on every sale, with every customer. 

I recently approached a company’s reception desk for an appointment; the person behind the desk never looked at me, just blankly said while typing and looking at her monitor, “do you have an appointment?”

She took my name, said, “Have a seat” and sort of pointed at some chairs against the wall.

While everything was handled in an efficient, businesslike manner, I certainly got the impression that, as a customer, I was not essential to their business, nor was my purchasing from them appreciated.

Companies that adopt a “customer-centric” philosophy put forth the effort to show and communicate that philosophy at every opportunity.  They hire staff members who exhibit “people” skills, integrity, and responsibility.  They train new hires on customer-centric methods of service fulfillment and communications.  They continuously improve product and service delivery with an eye toward pleasing and impressing the customer.  They develop programs to give extra value and extra service to the customer… that’s being customer-centric.

As a personal observation, companies that have adopted a customer-centric philosophy grow faster and have greater profits because they build greater loyalty and have a higher percentage of returning customers who then become a base of “word of mouth” advertising and referral business.  Additionally, these companies generally have lower employee turnover because the staff, once trained in the philosophy, is appreciated more by the people they serve.  

The customer-centric philosophy becomes circular when the focus is centered on customers.  Happy customers make a happy company with happy staff, and everything continues to get better.

Question or comment to Larry:  larry@larrygaller.com