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Change Management for Adopting Customer-centricity (Part 1)

Bibi Sofowote, CCXP

Many of us know at least one person who finds change difficult, even when that change is positive, and is something they’ve looked forward to, or worked toward. If they’re fortunate, they’ve learned to develop a coping mechanism to help them through the dreaded transitionary period. But still, it’s never easy. Now take that, and magnify it several times when it’s an entire organization going through this phase. An organization made up of different people, processes and tools, all liable to react to change in any number of ways. Even when that change is something positive like the adoption of customer-centricity.

Let’s talk about it.

There is no shortage of stories from history and current pop culture, on people, some of them even wildly brilliant and talented in their field, who did not handle positive change very well. After working hard or smart to distinguish themselves, it seemed as though finally achieving success was the worst thing that could have happened to them. In public or in private, their downward spiral makes for truly sobering reading, and for most people, this is a phenomenon that is difficult to understand. Sadly however, that has not stopped most people from judging these figures harshly.

What is this instinct to self-sabotage? Why, after pulling themselves up from "nothing", would a person seem so determined to undermine it all? These are great questions, and if this were a different podcast, and if I had different qualifications, I might even have felt the urge to share my perspective. But it is not. And I do not. So instead, I’ll talk about why Change Management is important for an organization looking to adopt something so essential, and so universally-sought-after, as customer-centricity.

One definition of customer-centricity that I like is that it is the policy or strategy of putting the customer at the center of everything the organization does. This means understanding the customer's needs and expectations, and then designing the entire organization, including its people, processes, products, services, and experiences, to meet them. A customer-centric business is constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and is always willing to listen to feedback and evolve.

If you’ve made it this far into the series, you no doubt understand why customer-centricity is so darned important. However, just in case you’re some sort of dangerous maverick who’s jumped in 7 posts into the thing, you take the time to prioritize this stuff because it leads to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, attracts new customers, and provides a competitive advantage, which all together can boost sales and profit.

Being customer-centric is not about broadcasting ads that say you’re customer-centric, or paying lip-service to the concept in your quarterly or annual reporting. This requires real, intentional will, all the way down to your company’s very DNA.

It will involve a significant change in mindset and behavior for many of your employees, who will need to start thinking about their work in terms of how it impacts the customer. They may even need to learn new skills, such as customer-listening and problem-solving.

Your tools and processes; those will have to run through the gauntlet of radical evaluation to determine if they are fit-for-purpose, where purpose equals unwavering customer focus.

And if your organization was not originally built around this concept, these changes… if not properly managed, can break your company. Real talk. Go too fast or too slow, game over. Upset the wrong stakeholders, game over. Communicate ineffectively, game over. See a pattern forming here?

Change Management is the structured process of transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. This process spans everything from conception and preparation, to implementation and on through to resolution.

So, how do we effectively manage our journey of change to become a customer-centric organization? Find out in next week’s edition of the series! A CX cliffhanger… I bet when you woke up this morning, you didn’t think you’d end up here! Thanks for reading this article. How will you use this information to make your customer experience better today? What have you observed in your environment Reach out. Connect. I’ll be reading and responding. And learning.

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