Matt Watkinson seems to have stirred up a hornet’s nest on LinkedIn recently when he posted…
“No business should be customer-centric.”
He did attempt to clarify his position with a more detailed explanation, but it seemed to have struck a raw nerve in many that probably spent a good part of their lives in the pursuit of Customer Centricity.
Here’s what Matt meant (in his own words)…
The term implies that the customer is at the center — the focal point of decision-making — and by virtue of that fact, other things are orbital or of lesser importance.
Imagine an F1 team saying they are engine-centric, tyre-centric, driver-centric, or aerodynamics-centric. They’d never win because the real challenge is combining these elements into a single package. Great engine and bad tyres? Back of the grid for you.
I couldn’t agree more.
Sure, there are many who would argue that Matt’s post is clickbaity or that he is being semantic. After all, every organisation prioritises different aspects at different points in time. But, I’ve also seen many organisations just pay lip-service to being customer-centric (or -focused, or -obsessed) without really tackling the problem at the grassroots level. So, maybe, we do need to examine the semantics a bit more closely.
By and large, if you were building products or services in isolation (of customer needs), it would do you a whole lot of good if you focused on your customer, and not on the highest paid person’s opinions (inside your organisation!).
That said, CX (or Customer Centricity) is a tool at your disposal – to be used appropriately, and in relevant situations. It can address specific problems, but is not a cure-all.
There are many, many moving parts to running (and scaling up) a successful enterprise. Employees, Products, Revenues, Costs, Profits – all need to work in harmony to make music. I would submit that a good business leader’s role is to conduct the orchestra in such a way that the result is a great business (not cacophony).
As with most things in Life, balance is the key.