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Four key attributes of a customer focused business

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By Karen Platt, Director, Customer Experience and Innovation at Optus Business


Every organisation wants to be customer-centric. The question is: how? Optus Future of Business Report 2015:  Road to Growth suggests that one of the first steps should be to become more agile, with an unerring focus on the external environment, so your business can readily adapt to changing customer needs and desires.


This year’s research report is based on interviews with more than 500 senior business leaders across Australia.


Using the results of this extensive survey, we developed an Australian Business Change Readiness Score.


The survey results and scores suggest that leading organisations have four key attributes.


1. Change-ready businesses are externally focussed


For organisations with high change readiness scores, the top trigger for undergoing transformation was customer-focused: 93 per cent nominated the desire to meet customers’ needs.


By comparison, low-scoring organisations appear to be more defensive and inward-looking. Their top three triggers were the need to reduce costs, to generate growth and profit, and to improve efficiency.


2. They focus on what they can control


Dealing with change isn’t easy – particularly changes in the economy, transforming customer behaviours and new disruptive competitors that are beyond an organisation’s control.


However, the report suggests that by managing the factors that are within their control, businesses can greatly improve their agility. In fact, it found that having the right systems and processes was the most critical contributor to an organisations’ change readiness. Those with a firm control over these levers are best placed to embrace this external change.


3. They ensure employees have the right tools


High-scoring organisations value technology that improves customer experience – either directly, or indirectly by ensuring employees have the right tools. They nominated knowledge sharing, collaboration and more targeted customer engagement as technology’s top benefits.


This reinforces a finding from the 2014 Future of Business Report, which showed that 71 per cent of organisations with employees who were well equipped with the right technology delivered an outstanding customer experience.


The 2014 report also found that customers’ expectations were rising fast, particularly for human considerations such as friendly and knowledgeable staff.


4. They have strong leaders


Importantly, both reports suggest that strong leadership is a defining characteristic of agile, customer-centric businesses. Not surprisingly, organisations that had consistently good leadership support for key change initiatives across the business received the highest overall change readiness scores.


Specifically, organisations that deliver a great customer experience generally have leaders who have articulated a clear strategy and created a culture where departments work together for common customer-oriented goals.