To build a successful business in the current market, you must consider several variables. Customers are one of these critical factors. In recent years, we have seen organizations becoming customer-centric to cater to their needs and ensure their satisfaction. Businesses see it as a promising way to gain a competitive advantage, especially in crowded markets.
Another important lesson we have learned from this is that being customer-centric is not a mere strategy! It is a value that must be imbibed within the organization’s culture. Further, it is the leader’s duty, i.e., the CEO, to follow practices that reflect customer-centric behaviors at each phase and step. This way, they should lead organizations toward customer-centricity. When the CEO – the captain of the ship (organization) – ensures such practices, the rest of the organization is motivated to follow them.
But what makes for a truly customer-centric leader? What are the traits that CEOs must have to become customer-centric leaders? In this blog, we have discussed the top ten traits that customer-centric leaders must-have.
1. Understand the importance of customer-centricity
This is the most basic and also the most important trait that customer-centric leaders must have. There is a popular saying, “to change the actions; it is first important to change the minds.” This is quite appropriate for bringing customer-centricity. To make sure that the organization is truly customer-centric, the leader should be aware of the importance of the change and its impact. For this, the executives need to research, interact, and truly understand the customers. For instance, reaching out to customers on social media channels could help them understand their value. Once this is done, they can take appropriate actions.
Take the example of Elon Musk. The SpaceX founder uses Twitter to engage with customers and seeks their feedback to improve. His actions reflect that he is making the right efforts to make his products more relevant to the customers.
2. Ability to address customer needs using innovation
The next key trait would be to understand customer needs. A true customer-centric leader should understand the customers’ needs and come up with solutions to address their concerns. However, businesses come across customers who don’t know what they want. Take the case of Amazon’s Alexa, for instance. Common customers wouldn’t have asked for it, but now, it has its presence in almost all major markets. We can see how the company used innovation to create a new market.
Similarly, customer-centric leaders should have an innovative culture. They should focus on building an innovative culture where the teams are allowed to come up with new ideas to solve unique problems.
3. Focusses more on customer quality rather than the customer quantity
As the leader, the CEO has to quantify the growth and success of the business based on quality rather than success. Customer-centric leaders focus on customer quality and thus create better value for their business. Along with customer acquisition strategies, customer-centric leaders prioritize customer retention and loyalty strategies. For this, they emphasize improving the customer experience at every possible touchpoint.
4. Be informed of each touchpoint in the customer journey
Most customer-centric brands have leaders who know their customers and closely monitor each touchpoint in the customer journey. Take the case of MS Office, for instance. Each application in the suite has been carefully designed. We can understand the makers’ obsession to help the customers and make their job easy. The post-purchase of the products is also very smooth and convenient. Instead of only looking for the monetary benefits, the CEO puts the customers’ needs ahead. That is what makes them customer-centric.
5. Looking beyond quick wins
When leading a business, the leader needs to create an environment for sustainable growth rather than quick wins. Leaders should have the ability to make quick decisions whenever required. However, CEOs should always keep the long shot in mind and develop strategies that bring longer-term benefits.
6. Focusses on reducing departmental silos
A leader is not someone who assigns duties to team members. Rather, a leader walks along with the team and provides them with the required assistance. To be a truly customer-centric leader, the CEO has to take measures to bring down departmental silos and improve collaboration between the teams. CEOs can use tools to foster cross-cultural collaboration. Setting common goals, encouraging transparency and communication, and offering incentives also bring down departmental silos.
7. Have a clear vision and goals
Becoming truly customer-centric is a difficult feat to achieve. However, a leader with discipline and clarity on the vision and the goals will be able to achieve it with ease. As a leader, the CEO needs to understand the vision and should be able to develop long-term and short-term goals based on it. It is only when they have absolute clarity on the vision and goals that the leader will be able to come up with an effective plan to fulfill them.
8. Drive disciplined collaboration
The job of a CEO is not a one-time duty, nor is it limited to a certain department/team. Rather, the CEO’s role includes ongoing engagement with both the employees as well as the customers. The CEO must have a strategic plan that prioritizes the most important tasks on an internal level. To ensure that customer-centricity thrives at all levels of the organization, leaders must organize others to carry out the plan and have the ability to build a culture of accountability.
For this, a customer-centric leader comes up with a plan that is simple to understand and easy to execute; and has three to four focus areas. At the same time, there should be metrics to measure the progress.
9. Allocate resources mindfully
A truly customer-centric leader recognizes the importance of a customer experience (CX) team and allocates resources accordingly. CEOs should recognize CX as an investment rather than a negotiable expenditure. Hence, they need to allocate qualified resources to handle it. Once this is done, their next step would be to provide them with access to the data and people necessary to get the job done.
10. Benchmarking with the best companies
Non-customer-centric CEOs often land up in the trap of overlooking their competitors, especially in CX. They fail to benchmark with their competition. These leaders often compare their customer engagement numbers to those of their sector. As a result, mediocrity is accepted since the bar is set low. However, true customer-centric executives understand that the company does not compete solely with its competitors in terms of customer experience. In terms of customer experience, the company competes with any other company that provides the same service to the same consumer. These executives create goals to be the most customer-centric organization possible. This way, they build their own best practices on a more regular basis.
Customer centricity is surely the best possible way to thrive in the crowded markets today. It guarantees fast yet sustainable growth, increased sales, and profit. It is also a promising way to have more revenue, happier employees, and more devoted customers.
For an organization to be truly customer-centric, it needs truly customer-centric leaders. Customer-centric leaders are dynamic people who balance both customers as well as employees. This is their secret to building truly customer-centric organizations.18
Do you identify with the traits that we have listed in the article? Do you think there are more traits that customer-centric leaders must possess? Let us know…
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published April 04, 2022, Updated March 01, 2023