A new book ‘A Smarter Way to Do Business’ brings to light a new dimension to sustaining and remaining relevant in business, which is being customer-centric.
The new book which was launched in Lagos last week is authored by Carlos Wanderley, who is also head of retail banking business at Union bank.
Speaking during the launch of the book, Wanderley said very few companies in Africa including Nigeria have customers at the centre of what they do, making it difficult for them to understand customer behaviours, problems, anxieties and issues.
He stressed on the need to treat customers especially, adding that only companies who have customers’ needs at the centre of what they do have stood the test of time.
“In 2011, I wrote a prototype of this book because I saw a lot of companies that were in the right direction on a customer-centric way using technology in terms of database to enrich knowledge and move back to a customer-centric approach.
“Because of the crisis we had in 2007 where companies and people lost a lot of money, people forgot about the customers and only thought about how they can get more money. The companies that didn’t do that are currently dominating the world. The amazons, facebook, google, have used technology to meet the needs of customers,” he explained.
He noted that businesses and people are increasingly trying to understand customers’ issues and problems and proffer solutions to them.
“Unless you address your customers’ problems, issues & aspirations you won’t be relevant to them. If you’re not relevant to them they won’t buy from you and ‘pay the bill.’ If they don’t ‘pay the bill,’ your business will fail.
“Don’t start inside your business, start with the customer! Make a conscious decision to get to understand your customer! Understand who it is that you do business with! Understand their problems, desires, issues & behaviours and understand what it is that makes them tick!,” Wanderley said.
He stressed on the need to use direct customer feedback and sentiment rather than simulated ‘real-life’ experiences made up by your people.
“Don’t guess how your customers feel. Allow internal teams to think clearly, prioritize data over intuition and rally behind one single point: the customer,” he stated.
He spoke on the importance of technology in meeting the needs of customers, especially with the unprecedented rate of digital adoption.
“Consumers choose providers based upon their ability to deliver and search out who can, via social media. Build ‘mobile-first’ capabilities for everything but, don’t forget valuable segments of customers who can’t access this technology. Consider partnerships to accelerate digital capabilities,” he stated.
On getting the right workforce, he said leaders should hire for the skills they need and consider ‘soft skills’ as well as practical experience and achievements
“Don’t be afraid to change your team to match your segments. Having the wrong people in the wrong job can cost you your business. Customers must feel genuine empathy with the person on the other side of the table. Select segment managers who are able to relate to their segment (age, demographics, life stage etc),” he stated.