Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

Stop Talking About a Customer-Centered Culture and Build It Already

Business People Working with Technology

In 2016, I had the opportunity to visit my mother’s birthplace, Madrid, Spain, and keynote the inaugural Digital Business World Congress (DES). I was invited to present on the business implications of experience design and also the state and future of artificial intelligence (AI) and customer experience (CX).

Leading up to the event, I was invited to participate in a media tour to promote my arrival in Spain. The topics ranged from digital transformation to CX to disruptive technologies to corporate innovation. I wanted to share them with you here.

First up is my interview with Más Movilidad (More Mobility), “Las empresas necesitan una cultura centrada en el cliente.”

Companies need a customer-centered culture

Why do you think business failure is fully accepted in Silicon Valley and the United States and around the world it is still perceived as a dishonor?

The word “fail” is largely perceived as a dishonor in the United States and globally. Within certain sectors, the word carries a different can carry different connotations. For example, in the startup community, all around the world, there is a prevailing philosophy that promotes experimentation and learning, “Fail fast. Fail forward.”

The point is that you don’t intend to fail but you do aim to try new things to break new ground. If you do make mistakes, learn from them and iterate quickly.

Larger organizations however are governed by a culture that’s inherently risk-averse. The idea of failure undermines the paradigms of traditional management infrastructure. Management is meant to operationalize proven processes and scale them. This puts the opportunity for business innovation at odds with the paradigm of everyday operations. If you fail, you are held against standards that do not allow for or do not readily condone any deviations.

What are the main characteristics of a company that survives other companies’ Digital Darwinism? Is any business prepared to be ‘digital Darwinist’?

Digital Darwinism is the evolution of technology and its affect on society.

Businesses have a choice, adapt or die! Too many executives don’t get this yet as they’re too consumed with delivering against shareholder and/or stakeholder value.

To effectively compete in an era of digital Darwinism, the spirit of “failure,” as it relates to experimentation and evolution, must be adopted to drive evolution and revolution. This takes leadership, which is difficult as many businesses rely on cultures of traditional management to continue profits, earn outs, and incremental market growth. But the truth is, no successful entrepreneur has ever said, “But, this is the way it’s always been done.”

Perhaps, surviving and thriving in the future takes a mantra of innovate or die!

In your book The End of Business you talk about the Generation C’s born and the relationship between companies and customers. What will be the future relationship company-customer?

The future of the relationship is going to be customer-driven, which means that businesses will become customer-centric out of necessity.

Generation C as I defined it in the book, is not a generation defined by age or birthdates. The “C” represented “Connected” and is defined by those who live a digital lifestyle and the common behaviors, aspirations, norms, values, expectations, et al, they share. This was a game changing discovery. This means that every day, the market for traditional customers, aka business as usual, is shriking while the market for connected customers, and all their unique nuances, is expanding. Everything is changing as customers gain greater power. At the same time, businesses still attempt to force them to conform to aging standards of engagement. Customers have a choice and they’re wielding it. Startups and progressive businesses are also recognizing this and innovating accordingly.

Currently, CRM is a powerful tool for marketing departments, but do you think that we forget the potential for sales?

Sales is just one part of the customer relationship. All aspects should be considered and connected. CRM is one of those things that doesn’t live up to its name. There’s very little customer relationships being managed across the enterprise simply by a matter of design. And, it’s the challenge with CRM is just one of the many symptoms of a bigger problem regarding the lack of customer-centricity and a holistic customer experience.

The promise of CRM is one that’s supposed to manage customer intent, expectations and outcomes in a sweeping and connected fashion throughout the customer journey. Depending where CRM sits in the organization, the functionality and data remains siloed. The fact that we live in an age of incredible innovation and the customer data cannot follow them throughout the journey is absurd, short-sighted and indicitve of the value of customers in a post-purchase state. Customers don’t see departments however, they see one brand. CRM isn’t a cost-center, it’s in an investment in customer experiences that yield longer-term relationships and value.

What are the goals that a company should set up before implanting a digital CRM? Do you think that firstly they should transfer the culture of CRM to their sales staff?

Businsesses need a culture of customer-centricity period. Digital CRM is only as effective as the experience customers have and share. This means that someone must lead customer experience in the organization. The goal should be no less than to deliver an integrated customer experiece that surprises and delights people. Other apps and services are setting the standard for what CX should be and thus every company is expected to rise to the occasion. That means we first need to understand customer expectations, behaivors, preferences and values. Goals should be tied to desired customer experiences and outcomes and measured as such. Anything else is business as usual. This is why I wrote my new book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. Technology should be an enabler for delivering against a next generation experience architecture.

Part 1 – Stop Talking About a Customer-Centered Culture and Build It Already (Más Movilidad)

Part 2 – Is Technology Creating a Narcissistic Society? (Expansión)

Part 3 – Digital Transformation Through a Global Lens (i9 Magazine)

About Brian

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
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2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Stop Talking About a Customer-Centered Culture and Build It Already”

  1. Costumers are us, all. We have expectations, feelings a lot of things that enterprises must be active and attentiv.
    Today and in future will be more connected by devices.
    Enterprises has conditions to be on the top, if they want.
    But they have to invest in people and technology.
    Technology without people don´t give any results, the principle is connecting people with machines, supported by humans.

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