Accurate Customer Information is the lifeblood of the customer experience – and your customer knows this. They have exchanged valuable personal information with your organisation so they expect a flawless service across channels with your company. So isn’t it a waste that because of legacy systems, siloes and inaccurate or poor quality data – there are some customers that “exist” on your system, but you will never get to “see” them, let alone interact with them.

So how does one start with creating a customer-centric organisation? Do you define it as being Omni-channel, putting the customer at the centre of the organisation and crafting ‘emotive’ experiences from the centre out? Or do you start with an internal mind set change and hire behaviour and cultural consultants to wave a magic wand and create a happy place where unicorns fart rainbows, and all customers want to do business with you, (because all service staff and customer-facing agents are happy and pleasant), even though they know NOTHING about you.

Okay, at least we can agree that reaching utopia, customer-centricity, is a challenge. You need to think logically and practically about how to start – but the point is this, just start.

Challenge 1: The way companies have grown and evolved, you have silos of data. The call centre is over there with their platforms and the website guys are over there with their analytics and round the corner you have the guys sending out statements and bills. It’s intense because everything is disparate and everyone struggles to co-ordinate communication with the customer between those channels. The result? An incomplete view of the customer, with different departments often having different “views” on the same customer. *sigh*

Challenge 2: So now you need to get all the data into one format and system where you can do something with it. You need to have it available at the click of a button and have it displayed in front of you where you can work with it to understand it. Fact: you don’t have to make your existing systems obsolete – you need to make them work harder for you.

Challenge 3: Will you ever get the data just right on your own to create one-on-one engagement? The simple answer is “No”, because data grows exponentially and evolves and is ever-expanding and is freaking everywhere. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get on top of this. Solution: Engage with the customer in the right moment via the right channel at the right time – and half your battle is already won.

Challenge 4: Did you know we share 50% of our DNA with bananas? I can’t remember where I read this, but it’s interesting, not valuable. Insights should not present you with interesting facts, rather information that can be acted upon to give you a competitive advantage and drive your business forward. So for your company ask yourself – can you act on this insight? More importantly, can you influence customer behaviour based on what the insight tells you?

These challenges exist in many enterprises and are not exclusive to a specific industry or sector. Achieving customer-centricity is less about implementing a grand vision than about building positive rapport and cadence with each individual customer today, tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. Yes, being customer-centric is a strategic imperative but how agile we can be moving forward when it becomes clear that tactics need to change.