Differentiate By Assessing Your Customer-Centric Maturity Level

Keeping your customers happy and your organization ahead of competition has become an incommensurable task. A task where you sacrifice more time, money and resources than ever, and where results are unpredictable.

That customers has become scarce and hard to gain is something that nobody questions today. And as if all this was not enough, margins are constantly shrinking and companies have lost control over customers decisions long time ago.

Like it or not, we all live today in a New Age of Customers, an era where the business ecosystem is governed by customers smart enough to decide what, how and when to purchase and how much they are willing to offer for your product or service.

As a result, complexity in managing customers has increased exponentially and companies struggle now to rethink what building a customer relationship means and how they can add value to regain customer proximity.

A new trend in almost every company is pushing toward using more sophisticated tools and practices in managing customers. A movement broadly dominated by information technologies that pledge significant improvements in the competitive edge.

Whatever technological the race for the customer may become, forward looking and innovative organizations must not forget a key customer management differentiator: the use of a methodical plan for continuous improvement that include regular and periodic customer-centered maturity assessments.

Key Components of a Customer-Centric Maturity Model

For assessing the customer-centric maturity, the organization first needs to concentrate on a reference maturity model.

A maturity model is a tool used to evaluate the development of customer-centered process areas, practices and tools that need to be improved, and also allow the organization to compare the current state against the desired. In other words, a maturity model provides a framework and a context through which a company will achieve excellence in customer-centric management methodically and deliberately.

A maturity model is comprised of certain levels (five in the case of the Smart Customer Management Model) that represent the goals, set of activities, practices and tools hat must be met to corroborate that the company has reached this level of maturity.

So, an organization that has institutionalized all the process areas and achieve the goal listed in a maturity level and its inferior, shall be considered that it has reached that level of maturity.

That gives the company a measure of progress that can be established as levels are attained. A 1-5 scale is set to show how the customer-centric improvement process evolves from an initial stage to a high-performance and innovative stage.

The Benefits of Assessing Your Maturity Level

Customer-centric maturity assessments determine the path and rate at which the organization is improving its orientation toward the customer and the effectiveness and efficacy toward its goal of building superior relationships.

Assessing the maturity has profound implications on profitability, com­petitive edge and first in class recognition. Therefore, it is a pragmatic and healthy policy to continually assess how processes, practices and tools contribute to the organizational success and growth.

In B2B environments, a customer-centric maturity assessment will provide an objective and methodical means by which a par­ticular prospective contractor can claim superiority over another. Achieving a particular maturity rating can be an excellent credential to be used as a competitive edge for highlighting one contractor and claim a higher level of credibility among the members of the bidder pool.

In B2C environments, customer-centric mature organizations differentiate from others because they exhibit a superior customer-friendly capability. Here a maturity rating will reflect that the customers have a central role in the company’s decisions and the way the company allocated its resources and delivers.

Furthermore, a cutomer-centric maturity assessment will provide a picture of the state of the overall organizational culture and competencies. With such detailed information, the organization will be best positioned to plan for improvement of competency, for improvements in process areas, and ultimately for a steady increase in profits.

Not an End in Itself

Maturity assessments are valuable in that they provide a tool for monitoring continuous improvement in customer-centric management. However, assessments should not become an end onto themselves.

One must keep in mind the importance of knowing the limitations and applica­bility of maturity assessment results.

By means of a customer-centric maturity model, organizations will have guidelines for regular moni­toring of customer-centered process areas and implement selected improvement projects. Thus, these organizations will become fully aware of their capabilities and shortcomings.

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