The rise of customer centricity.

The rise of customer centricity

Blog post by Bruce Melrose

Understanding your customer, is at the heart of solving your value proposition and business solutions. Here’s how.

Using analysis extenders to inform a value proposition for designing business solutions

Suddenly, after so many years of optimising business performance through lowering costs and replacing people with information systems, organisations have re-discovered the most basic of all business ingredients for success.
Understanding their customers.

It’s about time too. Business leaders thought that they would grow and evolve their businesses off the back of slapping in some hardware, some software and some digital channels. Job done. Lowered costs via machines. But that was never going to work, not on its own. That’s why so many of us moan and complain, “What about service? Where did that go?” or “I’m just a number to you. You don’t know who I am, or what I want. Tell me why I should stay doing business with you?”

And that last question is a great one for any business. Those who have responded, have done so by re-discovering customer centricity. And we’re not talking loyalty and reward schemes to encourage customers into doing business with you.

We’re talking about putting your customer en el corazón. Right at the heart of your business. Right inside it. After all, no customers equates to no business. Well, at least for those businesses operating in competitive environments.

Customer centricity is all about understanding your customer. Who they are, what they want and how they behave, so you can satisfy their needs in a way that is relevant to them, and in a way that keeps their business intact and attracts new business.

It means being flexible to changing market disrupters in a way that may be innovative, and is aligned to changing customer attitudes towards doing business.

For business analysts, to understand this, to make sense of it, requires a different lens, and some new techniques to inform program level and project level work.

Encamped business analysts will argue they already do all this. They write user stories, storyboards, use cases, requirement statements, and they map processes and procedures. What haven’t they covered off?

As it happens, quite a lot.

Understanding customer centricity is an enterprise level initiative that informs program and project work as an input. Attempting to define target solutions does not inform customer centricity, in my opinion, because understanding customer need is more than mapping workflow to a new target solution, it’s capturing their experience and that is a whole different lens.

Understanding customer experience is about capturing, storing and applying data into deep intelligent insight.

The business analysis lens applied to do so is customer experience journey mapping. There are two perspectives that can be adopted. The inside-out view, and the outside-in view, which hopefully are self-explanatory.

Many organisations tackle mapping their customers’ experiences from an inside perspective and expand their thinking to include internal customers, product and service improvement, however, a stronger view is to map a business from the outside, and using the experiences of real customers undertaking real business interactions.

Delusions are soon dispelled.

Depending on the nature of the business operations being looked at, there are different types of customer experience journeys, such as the touch point journey mapping, and a subset touch point journey mapping.

These journey maps inform business service or operational design. The journey maps reflect different experiences encountered along the way and prompt thinking around how dealing with a business can be, or become, a positive experience.

In effect, the experience designs the business.

There are many mapping or dashboard representations that can be used to represent a customer journey. I like this representation of a flight to New York as it is simple to see what is going on.

As an end to end experience, moods along the journey are reflected, some events fall outside a sphere of influence, such as safety procedures, in the case of this example.

Also identified are the make or break moments where understanding a customer and their needs can produce gain creators for them. The things that will keep their business intact. Also included are the points where an understanding of how information can be sourced and applied will improve the experience.

While the presentation layer model (above) looks easy enough, make no mistake there are many and varied inputs worked through to inform it, from statistical analysis to understand trends and behaviours to developing customer personas, from running workshop sessions and role-playing to understand different product and service perspectives across business channels and segments.

In other words, a whole lot of data is gathered and worked through to feed the experience maps and/or dashboards to reflect what a compelling and relevant business solution should look like.

When we start to understand what our customers do, whether as an individual or as a business, we understand their jobs and how they do their work. We gain insight into what challenges they face, what business tools and solutions are underperforming for them, what negative social consequences our customers encounter and what keeps them awake at night. Now we start to understand our customers and so we can respond in different ways to reducing their pains while maximising those things to provide them with a gain.

This understanding is reflected in products and services that are then designed.

Suddenly, we’re in the value proposition canvas arena.

Analysis extenders are when we seek to understand in one area, we end up informing another area of a business architecture.

Now we have a basis to connect what we understand about our customers into a value proposition. The model below poses many questions to understand what needs to be done to improve a customer experience driven by having the customer drive business products and services.

The outcomes that customer experience mapping give us is a valuable understanding of what drives customers, products and services, as represented below.

Answering these questions is the basis for understanding what a target state might look like. It represents a basis for what success looks like and it defines value propositions.

Value propositions themselves are an input to an enterprise level business model called the business canvas model. It is intended to embed a view of what a business does, how and why. It, in turn, informs other strategic models and strategic business decision making.

From creating personas, mapping customer experiences, we understand what a value proposition looks like, and how that defines a business model.

Analysis extenders are the connections by which that happens. Analysis outcomes in one area are carried across an enterprise to be reflected in different models at different levels elsewhere, and therefore become embedded organisationally rather than project specific.

The scoping analysis model you want to have come out, embedding customer centricity at the heart of a business, is shown below, as a very simple example.

The model is very much the voice of the customer. In this case, Amy, who flew to New York, states in valid planguage requirements, her view of a business solution under consideration. To complete the picture, the voices of the other stakeholders are also represented.

The customer voice is again resonating with senior business leaders struggling to understand how to attract and keep a new generation of customers. That is why we are seeing the rise and rise of customer centricity.

In this case, it’s all about Amy, and what Amy wants, and that is as it should be.