Customer centricity? Yeah right…

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Customer centricity? Yeah right…

8 tips to become a truly customer-centric organization in Financial Service Industries

The power of customer centricity is demonstrated by some of the most successful organizations of our time. For example by Uber, AirBnB and Spotify. But becoming a customer-centric organization won’t just happen overnight. It takes a mindshift, and real effort. This is no different in the financial industry, where traditional banks are facing the risk of losing customer interaction. Here are 8 tips to put your customers at the core of your business.

1. Don’t talk about customer needs, organize around their needs

Banks are traditionally organized around the products they sell, such as savings accounts, loans and mortgages. This organizational structure makes it harder to align your offerings to your customers’ needs, because the customer journey often involves much more than a single financial product or service. To put customers’ needs first, why not organize your organization around customer journeys and needs instead of the financial products you offer?

2. Customer journey map: not just a pretty picture

Customer journey mapping has become a very popular technique used in many financial service organizations. And it should be. It’s an excellent way to help you understand your customers’ needs and improve the customer experience. But just having a map doesn’t automatically make you a winner. Pretty pictures in themselves don’t lead to results. Instead of looking at a customer journey map as a snapshot, it should be a dynamic tool to plot real-time data, to constantly measure the organization’s performance and to provide a basis for decision-making on product and service development. Maybe it’s time to replace the term ‘customer journey map’ by ‘customer journey app’.

3. Get closer to your customers than ever

To be able to improve the experiences of your customers, you literally have to walk in their shoes, get under their skins. Creating a customer journey map and personas is just the very first step. Dialog with your customers is the key to success. Not as a onetime activity, but as an ongoing part of your daily activities. This is easier said than done. Organizations should do research and have dialog to discover the question behind the question and the deeper needs.

4. Keep your customers close, but your partners closer

As we said, customer needs are often relating to ‘something bigger’ than just one single financial product. Think of a customer that wants to have a mortgage to create a complete new home with his family. Or a customer that wants to have a loan to start with a new study to follow his/her passion. Each customer is part of a bigger ecosystem. This highlights the need for collaboration with other organizations. Partnering up with other experts from your ecosystem makes it possible to combine the strengths of different organizations to serve the customer even better, together.

5. Culture eats structure for breakfast

Without a culture that enables the organization to work and behave in a new way, the customer-centric structure will definitely fail. So pay attention to a couple of important cultural aspects:

  • Make sure your culture is about sharing instead of owning. A collaborative mindset is needed for alignment, knowledge distribution and creating trust.
  • Make sure your leadership embraces the new culture (which could mean you need to select new leaders), and coach them in a new leadership style that’s more focused on helping others to be successful and enabling employees to experiment.
  • Dare to take bold steps forward. Foster a creative and innovative culture in which people are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.

6. Don’t forget the technology

Once you’ve created a structure with newly formed customer journey teams, you need to make sure that there is alignment with the IT organization. Or even better; align from the beginning when becoming a customer-centric organization. It’s crucial that the technology enables customer experience enhancement, drives innovation and is supported by a priority mechanism that places all IT requests in the right order in the backlog of the DevOp teams.

7. Evolution instead of revolution

The new way of working asks for new standards. Current wheels need to be reinvented. How do you then implement the new structure and way of working within the organization? Via a big bang or via an evolutionary approach? Given also that the new way of working is about failing fast and learning fast, we prefer to evolve into the new structure and learn as much as you can.

8. Prevent confusion

Creating personas and customer journeys has become almost standard practice in many organizations. This is a positive thing, of course, but different definitions of customer journeys can also make things complicated. A customer journey may have an inspirational focus on the future experience in interaction with a bank in 2020. Or it could focus on a basic product flow like reporting the loss of your credit card. So, it’s crucial that all stakeholders agree on definitions and the portfolio of journeys. The main goal is to prevent confusion and create a common understanding and language when putting the customer first.

Are you ready?

All this shows that putting the customer at the core of your business is harder than it may seem. It calls for a new mindset and new way-of-working involving the whole organization, from marketing, product development, sales and digital teams to staff departments like legal and HR. But the rewards are massive – for you and your customers. Is your organization ready for customer centricity?


This blog is written by: Wouter Koot (Business Model Transformation), Franklin Heijnen & Anneli van Huizen (Digital), Arjen van Dommelen & Florian Verhoeven (Organization Design).

More information?

Do you want to know more about customer centricity within your organization? Please contact Wouter Koot, Arjen van Dommelen or Anneli van Huizen.

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