The way that companies create value has changed with the times. From the Age of Manufacturing at the turn of the 20th century, to the Age of Distribution in the 1960s, to the Age of Information starting with the internet in the 1990s — all these led to the Age of the Customer around the 2010s. The most successful companies in the Age of the Customer understand what their customers want and have delivered against it.
Even within this most recent customer-centric era, we’ve seen a breadth of different focuses, from everyday experiences to transformative experiences. And it’s off this wave that we see a new era emerging: The Age of Purpose. In Hellon’s latest Dare to Share presentation, we discussed this new Age of Purpose and how companies can succeed in this customer-centric era.
Introducing: the age of purpose
In the age of purpose, transactional experiences are out.
Organisations need to deliver purposeful experiences, make a stand for a broader belief system, and share values with their customers and peers across different touchpoints.
It’s no longer enough to rely on transactional value and paid loyalty. It’s all about earned growth and earning the right to have customers stick around.
The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers. We highly recommend reading the book if you want to learn more, but for now we’ll look at the basic structure of earned growth.
The building blocks of earned growth are:
- Business targets
- Purpose and right to exist
- Customer Experience
Finding the balance between these three building blocks will help organisations build long-lasting customer relationships and active advocacy, which leads to earned growth.
Achieving earned growth
During our work with organisations, we’ve found that achieving earned growth requires a change in focus. You need to shift from having a more general CX vision — ‘We’ll be the best in class for CX’, for example — to a more clearly defined vision. This helps everyone in the organisation understand where you’re going, why you want to get there and how that changes your day-to-day work.
CX can no longer be just one part of your organisation’s larger strategy. Instead, it needs to be woven into the core; present in every part of your approach.
Are companies already equipped for earned growth?
Based on our research and our maturity assessment survey, companies can be divided into two groups:
- Companies that have leaders who understand the importance of CX and what it requires.
- And companies that haven’t actively considered what their CX vision actually is and how to deliver it. Or they simply don’t know where to start.
4: Well-designed CX encourages upsells Common misunderstandings about Customer Experience
1. Customer Experience is about pleasing the customer
Great CX is not about pleasing the customer or simply following every wish your customer has. It’s about creating solutions that serve the customers' real needs.
You also need to make the solution easy to find, buy and use.
2. Customer Experience means customer service
This is a pretty common one: CX is often seen as a customer service responsibility. But while customer service can be a vital part of creating the customer experience, it’s just one part of the much bigger picture.
3. Customer Experience is about digitalisation
Digitalisation is an important driver and has forced companies to become more customer-centric, and you can use digital means to provide the customer experience. Still, CX is not about digitalisation alone.
4. Customer Experience is a value in itself
Customer Experience should always drive business targets and is therefore not a value in itself if it does not have a positive impact on the business.
5. Customer-focused versus Customer-centric
Many companies struggle to understand the difference between being customer-focused and customer-centric.
Being customer-focused means that you acknowledge the existence of a user or customer, but the processes you design for them are product and service-driven. This is the business mindset: ‘How can I best sell what I make to the customer?’ This approach drives customers to use things in a way that may not feel intuitive to them because it serves the needs of the business. Essentially, businesses get customers to purchase products or services by building the features first and then creating needs.
Customer-centric organisations present their offerings from a customer’s point of view and empathise with the people they want to reach. It’s not about driving customers to products but creating products that customers want and need. Customer-centricity is all about creating value for the customer by understanding their context and identifying their needs.
Hellon’s tip for a customer value mindset? Establish a ‘Customer Value Office’
Shifting from a customer-focused approach to a customer-centric one isn’t easy. So how can you do it successfully?
We recommend establishing a Customer Value Office. A Customer Value Office consists of key stakeholders from around the organisation committed to driving customer value-driven change. It ensures a holistic, systemic perspective on customer-centricity and has the power to make decisions on the prioritisation of development initiatives and resourcing.
A Customer Value Office offers flexible and scalable support based on your organisation's needs. It identifies all critical areas you need to align with the value you want to create for customers. The Customer Value Office has a birds-eye view of operations and can track how well each area is shifting toward customer-centricity.
While some areas may improve more quickly than others, progress in one area is ultimately progress for the entire organisation.
Customer-centricity will drive the age of purpose
This transformation doesn’t happen overnight. But with a little dedication, it can certainly take shape.
Companies need to embrace customer understanding to find the appropriate balance between their purpose, their business targets and Customer Experience. By setting up a Customer Value Office, you ensure that all your development initiatives are aligned with a common, customer-centric target state and ensure that the organisation’s strategy, capabilities, structure, culture, and business goals support customer value creation.
By celebrating the small wins — the things that work — and making adjustments to processes that don’t serve customers’ needs, organisations can truly master the age of purpose.
Hellon can help
If you need help setting up your own Customer Value Office and kickstarting your customer-value driven transformation, Hellon can help.
We provide you with the tools and support you need to make the shift to customer-centricity. Contact us today to learn how we can help you enter the age of purpose. And be sure to watch the full Dare to Share presentation to learn more about earned growth, the age of purpose and customer-centricity.