Becoming Customer-Centric

The Real Key to Business Transformation and Longevity

The AlphaSys Philosophy

It’s interesting how many organisations claim to be customer-centric, as if this somehow separates them from their competitors.

In practice, many struggle to understand what customer-centricity means; it has become a soundbite.

Often executives will commission work to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as Salesforce, in the hope that the new system will make their organisation customer-centric.


Technology Can Only Do So Much

There are some areas of business where a simple systems upgrade can provide benefits, for example delivering a faster version of what was there before, or better reporting.

However, moving to a customer-centric model involves much more than implementing a CRM system.

Whilst a good CRM, such as Salesforce, is essential, it is not enough.  For organisations who serve individual customers, modern CRM systems must be the core of the delivery model. But to get the full value out of the system, changes will need to be made to the whole operating model; from workforce capabilities to the configuration of service offerings, to the type and structure of partnerships, right through to how performance is monitored and managed.

Quite often, what we find when we arrive is a customer service model founded on spreadsheets, siloed local systems and even paper records.  Even those using first-generation CRM solutions that have grown out of accounting systems do not understand the potential behind a modern CRM.

At AlphaSys, when we are asked to help with a Salesforce implementation before we press a key, we spend time upfront – carrying out our structured discovery process with our clients. Making sure that we understand their vision and the values of the organisation, their desired outcomes, how they are measured and the core delivery methods.


Don’t Underestimate The Benefit Of A Reflective Business Mind-Set

Modern solutions, such as Salesforce, can be made to do virtually anything, so it’s important to get the thinking right upfront.

For many of our clients, our structured discovery process leads to a period of reflection.  Having seen many For-Purpose organisations go on this journey with us, we can almost predict this precise light bulb moment, and what was a systems project suddenly becomes a transformation journey.

As a for-purpose organisation, we are motivated by the success our clients have in delivering outcomes to those they serve. Adopting a customer-centric approach can significantly move the dial on this. We are happy to make this investment.


Transform Your Operating Model

The key to becoming customer-centric is to focus thought not just on the service that an organisation provides, or the processes used to administer customers – but on the needs of the individual customer and the experience that the customer feels throughout their journey with you.

This starts with a deep understanding of the customer, including their needs, preferences, attributes and constraints. The more time spent exploring and recording this upfront, the better the service, and the greater the potential outcome.

Then we think through all customer touchpoints to assess how the customer will be feeling about your service, and how they can be motivated towards a successful outcome. Customers will willingly engage in a process they find rewarding!

Then, components of your operating model need to be challenged and aligned with this ambition.

There are, naturally, constraints on how far an organisation is able to go in meeting the needs of a customer; due to budgets, regulations, limitations caused by funding models and compliance needs. But starting with a view of the ideal customer journey drives organisations to assess whether these constraints are real or a legacy issue.

For example, the right CRM solution provides a “single source of the truth” regarding a customer’s background and highlights their relationships with other contacts. Providing immediate access to the history of a customer’s interaction with an organisation, liberates staff to engage with customers without having to find out who last spoke to them and track down their case file.

Think of a world where a customer intervention is prompted by the system, where follow-up activities can be scheduled in real-time, where case managers are confident that the right experts will be available at the right time and place, fully briefed on the customer’s needs and preferences, and where this is all confirmed and visible to the customer and relevant parties on-line.

Or how about a system where the power of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, embedded within a CRM are working in the background, able to anticipate a customer’s next requirement based upon their previous actions and change the service model in flight.

That’s starting to sound like customer-centricity.

Finally, and this is the real hidden bonus of a CRM system, management can watch all of this happening in real-time, through dashboards and alerts to allow them to fine-tune both the customer experience and the operating model, to maximise outcomes.


Seize The Opportunity

At AlphaSys, we find that a little investment in supporting our clients to challenge their operating model upfront pays significant dividends when our clients look back and consider the success of a project.

We’ve helped develop customer personas, bringing to life our client’s customer base, we’ve worked through customer journeys, looking for those moments of truth where small changes can make big differences and we’ve helped to design target operating models, such that the full range of transformation activity can be understood and planned.

Our real expertise, however, is in the configuration of the Salesforce platform at the heart of a customer-centric organisation, our reputation is built on making sure that our clients maximise the return on their investment by using the opportunity that correctly configuring and implementing a CRM solution provides to transform their organisation’s performance.


If you would like more information on the AlphaSys approach or want to explore how it could work for you, reach us at [email protected]