Skip to main content

Absolute power to the customer? A shift says yes

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak)

The paradigm shift of customer centralization is up on us. Some believe that putting customers first is still the way – a classical way, but still the way – but putting your customer first might be an outdated approach. What follows here is a bit more detail on that very point, with a bit of advice for organizations that are anticipating this paradigm shift. 

This concept has been discussed many times by, first offered by Paul Iske, professor of Open Innovation and Business Venturing at the School of Business and Economics of University Maastricht in the Netherlands. At SEE 2016 – an event produced and hosted by IT service management firm TOPdesk – Iske discussed the changing face of customer dynamics and what that’s doing to the culture of the organization.   

Taking that conversation a step further, here are some details of that conversation, expanded upon and furthered for your benefit.     

Is the customer-first mentality outdated? If so, what’s the alternative?

While many organizations put their customer’s experience first, the result is often a letdown for those they serve. Why? Organizations create an environment and place customers at the center of it. So, from their point of view, they actually are putting the customer first, but customers care about their own worlds. Organizations should to fit in with them and the worlds they find important. This is a shift in perspective. While the concept of a customer-first strategy makes sense, most don’t realize that they may not be best suited to look solely at the customer, but instead try to figure out how the customer looks at you and your organization.   

Can you provide an example of this perspective shift? 

Currently customers need a user name and password for almost all websites to access their own information. When your services are based on the Qiy Scheme, customers control their own information — no matter where it’s located. When a random service organization needs certain customer data to deliver its services, the customer can give the organization a code to access this information. Qiy is the key. The customer places himself at the center and gives service providers and suppliers access to his world. 

The customer determines what information he shares with organizations?

A very good example is the application Dappre, which is based on the Qiy Scheme. With Dappre you create secure connections with people, organizations and, in the future, even with things. You then decide what information you want to share and receive. This all happens without a traditional service platform in between. Such an approach mean you establish a one-to-one connection where you can decide what you want to share with whom and for what period of time. For instance, you can subscribe to each other’s contact details immediately. As a user, then, I can grant access to another user or organization by scanning a QR code. When a user gets a new phone number or email address, his or her contacts are automatically informed. 

This way, users only have to keep track of their own details — saving time and money. 

Organizations can transform CRM to CMR (customer managed relation). It’s expensive to keep track of all customer details, user names and more in several databases. An additional advantage is that it’s easy to deny access when necessary. 

As an organization, how do you get and keep this access? 

Organizational leaders need to understand that if they fit into the customer’s world they have a higher chance of succeeding. You can already see this happening between organizations. The provider’s systems complement the receiver’s systems. A bank chooses to send a customer monthly credit card statements. If the customer wants one each week he’s out of luck. The bank doesn’t fit in the customer’s world. If the bank changes the frequency or format of its supply of information to the wishes of the customer, they will make the customer happy and it will be easier for the bank to enter the customer’s world. 

Do organizations need to keep the wishes of every customer in mind?

That’s a bit of a stretch, but it is possible to be more flexible when it comes to the customers’ wishes. A good example here is Google, an organization that gets familiar with the individual based on his or her internet search history. When typing “jaguar” one person will end up on a car website, another will find information about felines. Just like Google, organizations should place themselves in the individual’s world. 

How should they do this? 

With customer journeys, for example. Try to get under your customer’s skin. What does your customer see or experience, and what issues does he or she have? Try to optimize from that perspective. Once the organization sees things from the customer’s perspective, both organization and customer will be able to understand each other better. Creative and innovative organizations have a better chance at improving and getting a better relation with the customer. When organizations step into the customer’s world and create enthusiasm and loyalty, they can innovate together with the customer. If the trust between the two is good, it’s not the end of the world when an innovation fails. When the organization works from a client-managed relations perspective, the customer will be more willing to forgive. He knows that the organization doesn’t do things out of self-interest, because they deliver services that put the customer first. 

How will the importance of a relation between customers and organizations change? 

New technologies, such as blockchain, the technique behind the bitcoin, will make it unnecessary for organizations to know everything about their customers. Everything will be recorded in a large internet database. Interference from a third party, like a bank, is no longer needed. Customers and organizations can settle the transaction between themselves. Soon, customers can profile themselves anonymously and determine what they want to share. The organization will take out a so-called subscription on the customer and accepts the terms and conditions the customer has set for exchanging data. A paradigm shift that brings back the human dimension in the digital world. 

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord, President of TOPdesk US (opens in new tab) 

Image Credit: Jirsak / Shutterstock

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord is president of TOPdesk US.