Is customer the king?

Oct 14 2013, 09:39 IST
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Customer-centricity is clearly a corporate buzzword. Customer-centricity is clearly a corporate buzzword.
SummaryManagement students need to understand why customer-centricity is becoming a corporate buzzword

Recently, ICICI bank added customer-centricity as the fifth ‘C’ to its business strategy. The 2012 London Olympics Organising Committee put the customer at the centre of its strategy for organising the games. This was reflected in the meticulousness with which they studied and addressed the needs of different customer segments, from meaningful names to pathways and bridges to providing personalised information to the visitors.

Customer-centricity is clearly a corporate buzzword. But what is the reason for this focus? Management students, in particular, need to understand this.

“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife … she wants all the information you can give her.” David Ogilvy famously said in his marketing classic Confessions of an Advertising Man. The customer today is more demanding and far better informed than ever before. Michael LeBoeuf has quoted some insightful statistics in this context in his book How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life:

*A company spends six times more on attracting new customers than on keeping old ones.

*As many as 68% customers quit because of the indifference of people serving them.

*A satisfied customer is likely to tell 9 to 12 people, while a dissatisfied customer will reach out to 20.

In today’s internet-driven world the number may well run into millions. A case in point is Dave Carroll, the Canadian musician, who had landed with a badly damaged guitar while travelling on a United Airlines flight in 2008. His damage claim was held ineligible by the airlines in view of its 24-hour policy for receiving such claims. Carroll’s pleas fell on deaf ears and, frustrated, he wrote a song capturing his experience. The song went viral on YouTube, bringing the airlines to its knees, and spurring it to take immediate action in the shadow of its tarnished image.

Clearly, in today’s highly competitive environment, an organisation derives its cutting-edge not from superior processes, systems or technology, which can easily be replicated, but from the way it engages with its customers. Customer retention is the key to business success. It is no wonder that the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, had claimed, “Our goal is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.”

So, what are the dimensions of outstanding customer service?

After scrutinising hundreds of chairs at a leading furniture store, I had selected one that agreed with my not-so-prefect back. Unfortunately, the chair that was delivered matched the specifications perfectly, but did

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