Why Your Business Should Adopt Customer-Centricity
Customers’ power in the marketplace drives more business successes and failures than nearly any other factor. Are you giving your customers what they expect? What they demand?
In a nutshell, are you making the best use of technology to drive a customer-centric business?
The Customer-Centric Approach
Ivestopedia defines customer-centricity as “an approach to doing business that focuses on creating a positive experience for the customer. Client centric businesses ensure that the customer is at the center of a business's philosophy, operations or ideas.”
Harvard Business Review says that building a customer-centric culture, requires business leaders to take these six actions:
- Operationalize customer empathy.
- Hire for customer orientation.
- Democratize customer insights.
- Facilitate direct interaction with customers.
- Link employee culture to customer outcomes.
- Tie compensation to the customer.
As company leaders start to recognize that culture and strategy go hand in hand, they’re increasingly turning to technology to help bridge the gap between internal business processes and external customer satisfaction.
Luckily, there’s a wealth of technology available!
Technology that Makes Customer-Centricity Easy
Forbes says that when “keeping customers happy (is) the primary goal of business, CMOs and CIOs need to equip their employees with the right tools…to achieve (the goal).
Here are three thriving technologies that make customer-centricity easier to achieve:
1. Business Process Automation
BPA is a systematic approach to improving and automating an organization's workflow to make it more effective, more efficient and adaptable. The goal of BPA is to reduce human error and miscommunication and focus stakeholders on the requirements of their roles.
A document-centric BPA focuses on the management of documents within the context of the business processes that the documents fulfill. For instance, a legal document may require editing by an administrator, review by a legal assistant, case law research by a legal intern and final signature by a partner. The document needs to be managed as it goes through the processes to its completion.
The paper-based way of doing this is by moving a paper document from one desk to another. A more advanced way is with an electronic document that is emailed from person to person.
The problem with either of these methods is the human element.
A more effective way is to remove the human element from each transaction by creating business process rules that “move” the document seamlessly from one person to another. This rules-based workflow allows an administrator to create a rule that dictates the flow of the document through an organization: for instance, an invoice passes through an approval process and then is routed to the accounts-payable department. Dynamic rules allow for branches to be created in a workflow process. A simple example would be to enter an invoice amount and if the amount is lower than a certain set amount, it follows different routes through the organization. Advanced workflow mechanisms can manipulate content or signal external processes while these rules are in effect.
Business Process Automation (BPA) is the umbrella term for software applications that help organizations streamline business processes. BPA leverages imaging and workflow applications, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation (IA) to automate manual tasks. RPA utilizes software robots to do standard routine tasks and IA leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) to handle more complex tasks.
The more that internal business processes can be automated, the more employee time that is freed for customer-facing involvement, which invariably leads to higher customer satisfaction. Back-office processes are ripe for automation, and even many front-office processes can be vastly improved through automation.
2. Robotic Process Automation
No, this doesn’t mean that robots will be walking around your office!
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) means that any work process that is definable, repeatable, and rules-based can be mapped out and assigned a software robot or “Bot” to manage the execution of that process, just as a human would.
RPA is separate and distinct form an organization’s IT structure. It is not another business application. Rather it is a substitute for a human worker to operate business applications.
Robotic Process Automation helps companies execute various business processes quickly and accurately at reduced costs with less need for ongoing human intervention. This frees employees to participate in more value-added activities that involve personal interaction, problem solving, and decision making.
Robotic Process Automation allows employees to complete tasks that are more valuable to the company and its customers. When employees feel their work is valued and worthwhile, their productivity increases, which increases employee retention rates, and they’re better supported for these tasks by the RPA. This can help increase productivity and cut costs.
3. Artificial Intelligence (IA)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is generating real value across industries. AI refers to the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
AI algorithms are not natively “intelligent.” They learn inductively by analyzing data.
According to a Boston Consulting Group & MIT Sloan Management Review, published in Fall 2017 “Reshaping Business With Artificial Intelligence,” Customer-facing activities including marketing automation, support and service, in addition to IT and supply chain management are predicted to be the most affected areas by AI by 2022.
“…AI is one of those technologies that’s applicable everywhere. For most companies that have data, it can immediately bring cost savings or ways to create efficiency and make more money…. The applications are endless…” - Kai Fu Lee, Venture Capitalist
AI has proven beyond a doubt that it can tremendously help both B2B and B2C companies in improving efficiency and in driving customr-centricity.
In customer-facing applications, use AI to:
- Identify customer issues with ticketing solutions
- Assign agents to customers
- Classify and route calls
- Suggest agent responses
- Survey and review call analytics
In the back office, consider AI to:
- Automate auditing processes
- Process invoices
- Streamline data migration
- Verify documents for compliance
- Automate the Mail Room
Make Customer Centricity A Top Priority
According to Intellius, "63% of CEOs see rallying their organizations around the customer as one of the top 3 investment priorities this year. For years, companies took a company first approach…but with emerging…technology, companies have wised up, and decided it’s a pretty good idea to ask the customer what they need to engineer better experiences that lead to more customer loyalty.”
Remember that it takes twelve positive experiences with a company to make up for one negative experience, so isn’t it time to start setting your company up with digital technology that drives customer-centricity?
If you'd like a more expansive view of the technologies described in this article, please access our free white paper: The Business Leader's Guide to Digital Transformation.