The push for customer-centricity: A lesson for business students

William Woods Adult Degrees

lesson for business students in organizational agilityAccording to a recent Gallup report, almost 70 percent of B2B customers are ready to take their business elsewhere while only one half believe that their vendor delivers on its promise.

The report suggests that the way to turn the tide on this stark reality is by implementing a customer-centric culture. Jim Clifton, Gallup’s Chairman and CEO believes that the biggest cultural transformation a B2B business leader can make is “to change the customer culture to the one that leads with advice over price.”

Essentially, what this approach requires is that everyone in the organization makes an effort to understand the customer’s business. For example, Clifton suggests that each client meeting begins with some sort of a knowledge offering — a valuable industry insight or a discovery that can help the client do his or her job better. Even on an individual level this requires preparedness but creating an organizational culture around insight sharing is a strategic effort.

So how can organizations begin to implement a cultural change toward greater customer-centricity? The secret has to do with agility — an organization’s ability to adjust course quickly based on the latest market developments. While creating an agile organization is a factor of many variables, the report specifies a few key strategies:

1. Identify, appoint and develop the right account managers. Account managers are typically responsible for maintaining the company’s existing client relationships to ensure that clients do not take their business elsewhere. It’s a role that requires both sales and business strategy know-how. According to the report, “great account managers approach everything they do with an unwavering, obsessive emphasis on customers.” This enables them to cultivate advisory partnerships with their clients that grow into long-term relationships.

2. Leverage prescriptive analytics to keep pace with customer’s changing needs. Prescriptive analytics offers an insight into what’s coming as opposed to what’s already happened. This type of insight enables B2B companies to be adaptive to market changes and stay informed regarding customers’ evolving needs.

3. Integrate customer-centricity at every level of the organization. According to the report, this includes anything from “big-picture organizational processes (such as onboarding and performance incentives) to employees’ day-to-day experiences (such as how team meetings are structured).” This will ensure that everyone at the organization is prompted to put customer’s needs first.

Unsurprisingly, the Gallup report’s emphasis on the importance of organization’s agility also aligns with research regarding the types of skills employers want from business graduates. Soft skills such as resilience, teamwork, and adaptability are in high demand as they signify nimble individuals who can effectively support an organization’s agility efforts.

The William Woods University online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration prepares students for entrepreneurial leadership with a special focus on developing students’ soft skills. Students will take part in a rigorous and challenging business curriculum that includes not just the fundamentals of business administration but customer service, non-profit management, ethics, entrepreneurial management and more.

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