Here at Merkle we are constantly striving to help our customers become more "customer centric." This can mean many different things to our customers as they spend thousands of hours of effort on programs to improve their level of customer centricity. What I find interesting working on customer oriented solutions with our clients, our partners and our teams is that many times we do not apply “customer-centricity” to our day to day lives. As a person who believes in the “Eat your own dog food” style of thinking, I have always tried to encourage my teams to think and operate in a “customer-centric" manner. Even though this should be easy to do for people working in the marketing and CRM professions, I think for many the day to day workload and stress can cloud our own personal alignment to our day to day customers needs.
Have ever you stopped to think who are your customers, all of them? Who are your organizations customers? Who are your internal and external customers? Who are you the customer of? This probably seems like a pretty straight forward question, but I often find that most of us don’t always think completely in this space. Let me give you an example. My organization builds customer data technology for our clients and our general client point of contact is the CMO, or the marketing organization. So that is my customer, right? Well, yes that is true but it is not a complete answer.I also see a Merkle or client analytics team as my customer because the quality of my product, the customer database, directly impacts the quality and efficiency of what they do, which in turn affects the quality and satisfaction of our ultimate end customer. As a supplier of core marketing technology, wwe have many customers to satisfy from the analytics teams, to the digital teams, to the e-commerce teams, and the IT teams. We need to be empathetic and aligned with all to achieve client satisfaction. Now ultimately, budgets and priorities will drive how much effort will be placed into satisfying each customer, but knowing your complete customer picture will help you be more “customer-centric”.
Great, now you know who your customers are, so now what? Well now you can look at each one of your customers and map out what are their expectations in relationship to you and your organization. This can be in the form of a simple roles and responsibilities matrix to as complex as performance metrics and service level agreements. If you cannot do this, then you have probably identified a core problem in your relationship with that particular customer already. This is likely leading to ongoing communication gaps, dissatisfaction issues, and maybe even ill will. Start small with basic expectation definitions and add complexity later as you evolve on your journey to customer centricity.
There are a wide variety of ways to apply your customer-centricity map to your day to day activities. These typically depend on the formality of your customer relationship and your mutual priorities. Of course the customers you have contractual relationships will be bound by more formal contract obligations, but don’t assume all of your customer touch points are covered equally. The key is to talk about expectations with your customers and find out what is working and not working. Communication is the key.
Often, I find the most value is looking at your internal customers and using your expectations map as a way to improve alignment or processes which can then strengthen your overall relationship. I even find it valuable to think customer-centric-like in my relationships as a coach, a parent, or a member of an outside organization where people need to work together. At the end of the day, everyone in our industry knows that customer-centricity works — so why not apply it on a day to day basis.