The drive towards customer-centricity: Journey or Destination?

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  CXO’s in an increasingly digital world are slowly starting to realise that the elusive ‘holistic view of the customer’ whilst rooted in the mystery of leading-edge data management approach and technology innovation, is primarily driven through effective management of the ‘customer interactions’ within the core operational processes on which their business competes in the […]

 

CXO’s in an increasingly digital world are slowly starting to realise that the elusive ‘holistic view of the customer’ whilst rooted in the mystery of leading-edge data management approach and technology innovation, is primarily driven through effective management of the ‘customer interactions’ within the core operational processes on which their business competes in the marketplace.

Its all about customer ‘touch-points’

These customer interactions or ‘touch-points’ are rapidly reducing in duration due to the increasing number of digital channels at the customer’s disposal and therefore, and, quite crucially, the window in which an organisation can influence customer satisfaction and diversify revenue generation is not only diminishing but also becoming increasing difficult to interpret.

Traditionally we think ‘shared service’ rather than ‘business outcomes’..

The traditional approach to customer-centricity is enterprise-wide bottom-up rather than process-centric top-down. Invariably it focuses on the development of a business case centred on a shared service foundation and enterprise data management technology acquisition, with ROI then determined by the potential IT cost-reduction savings that clean data may bring for the organisation as a whole. This concept is eloquently discussed in my colleagues article called The true role of MDM the recommendations of which I suggest should form the backbone of any customer-centricity drive within your organisation.

Our CIO’s are drowning in data

The CIO’s challenge is that their organisation is literally ‘drowning in data’ much of which is irrelevant to business process efficiency and the strategy that the CEO is pursuing in the marketplace. I argue that although we need to handle big data within the business processes to inject intelligence into our interactions with the customer, the focus for progressive organisations should be unifying the customer data specific to the required process interaction outcome rather than attempting to unify customer data holistically across the organisation.

In short, start small, think big and focus on core data rather than big data with a measurable business outcome in mind.

To commence, ask yourself the following questions…

When servicing a single key customer process (such as customer take-on),

  • How many applications, technologies, people and lines-of-business are involved?
  • How many different perspectives and metrics do your business units need to maintain to determine how well you are servicing the needs of the customer effectively?

If you are in a FTSE 250 organisation and answering below 10 to the above, congratulations and maybe you should be writing the next instalment of this blog for me!

More specifically, at each stage of this business process,

  • Does your IT landscape have a consistent and evolving view of the core customer data, interaction events and history to provide the necessary context for your customer facing business units to achieve the customer retention and revenue-generation goals your organisational strategy has set?
  • If the answer is no; what are the specific attributes of customer data that as a bare minimum are required to achieve that elusive process improvement outcome; this should be your start point.

It is my belief that the pioneers in the field of Master Data Management have effectively ‘catalysed’ the inevitable consolidation of Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Information Management (BIM) technologies in the future.

Information catalyses efficient business processes

Indeed recent article on ‘The State of Data Governance Maturity 2011’ has concluded that information is the fuel for successful business processes and only by considering business processes and business information in parallel within in the confines of a business-driven program, will business performance and value be increased. So in a nutshell, organisations that focus on the core customer data necessary to achieve a business outcome is the route to success in developing and sustaining customer-centricity for the modern organisation.

It is my belief that focusing on process optimisation within the confines of a common information model covering the minimum unified dataset possible to achieve a specific near-term business outcome is the route to sustainable customer-centricity for the modern organisation.

Information intelligence ‘tunes’ processes to win!

As our customer touchpoints evolve and, as the market changes, organisations with the agility to ‘tune’ their business processes against adaptive customer intelligence will win. In this sense, I suggest that whilst customer-centricity can be viewed as a destination in terms of corporate approach and the technology foundation on which its founded, it is also, a progressive and incremental journey in adapting to the needs of the customer. I will over the coming weeks attempt to elaborate on this emerging field and, to align it with the concept of the increasing need for a two-speed information strategy.

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