Q. What do Loyalty Cards, DVDs, digital cameras, the scroll wheel on your computer mouse, eBay, the Channel tunnel, and Customer Centricity have in common?
A. All of these innovations transformed the world and changed the game circa 1995. And all have today become familiar, commonplace, part of our language. It’s what’s expected.
The language of ‘customer centricity’ has become so casual that the term is now listed in the top 50 of Buzzword Bingo. A simple Google search yields more than 49 million references to all things claiming to be customer centric. Now tired and overused, the concept of ‘centricity’ has become nearly meaningless, with differences in approaches wholly indistinguishable.
When I first introduced a retail loyalty program and customer science circa 1996, my principal message then (and now) is that true loyalty is an attitude and approach that an organisation must hold towards its customers, rather than the widely-held converse: the secret is about being loyal to your customers, not about customers being loyal to you. And the data confirms that this practice of putting customers first – being Customer-Loyal – is the driver of sustainable growth.
Directionally, I advise that customers must be put in front, using customer insight at the centre of thinking and action. In the lingo of the last century, this approach was translated as ‘customer centric’. Today, certainly unconsciously, we are selling ourselves (and customers) short by clinging to this (now much less thought-provoking) ‘centricity’ buzzword.
Important distinctions in language and behaviour between ‘centric’ and ‘loyal’ are illustrated in the image below. To summarise, being ‘loyal’ is the raison d’être – always doing the right things for customers, and intimately personalising their experience.
It is time we change the game, again. And time that we reject the common wisdom and casual language, once again, whilst still confirming our values and principles on behalf of customers. We at Peak Loyalty help our partners and clients transform, to become Customer Loyal. You can start by getting your own language right, recognising that ‘centricity’ is but a signpost on the journey to a deeper relationship with customers. Being just ‘Customer Centric’ is not enough anymore…it’s yesterday’s news.