The Zulu greeting “Sawubona” means, ‘I see you’. Not just ‘I see you standing here in front of me,’ but ‘I see where you come from, who your ancestors were, what troubles you, what you need and what you want. I see you, welcome’.

That’s what we crave, not only as a customer but as a human being, too. We want to be noticed so that if we were to reply, our response “Ngikhona”, meaning ‘I am here, I am validated, I matter’, would be appropriate. 

In this context one would believe that client centricity is the answer, it provides all the solutions to achieve the above. Could it be the silver bullet organisations are searching for?

In an industry where client centricity is often a buzzword, how many times have you heard staff and management loosely use the term to suit their own needs and agendas?

For me, unless it translates into real value-add for the client, ‘client centricity’ is right up there with other similar consultant-speak like ‘helicopter view’ and ‘boil the ocean’.

I have seen too many businesses fail when they try to satisfy the seemingly endless wants and needs of their customers. Client centricity, if undefined can drain your resources, minimise real impact on clients and reduce customer happiness.

In a world with limited resources, how can you truly meet all the needs of all your customers? If you thinly spread your business to create the average middle of one size fits all, it won’t do. We all know one size fits all fits no one properly.

Think about it this way: McDonald’s loathes the customer that comes in and orders a Big Mac without cheese – this order bucks the system and means having to cook the meal from scratch. In the same way, airlines loathe the passengers who order gluten-free, vegan meals. They need average as averages drive down costs, costs which they have spent trying to meet everyone’s needs….see the paradox here?

When we are the customer, we want to be treated individually: we want to be served, to be made to feel special and treated with respect and dignity. We want to be validated.

Research done by The Walker Group shows that the most important thing to customers is experience – and leading brands and companies agree. CX – or Customer eXperience – is a crucial success factor for every business, more important than product features or even pricing.

For one reason, CX is a lot more defined than client centricity. Ask people to tell you their best and worst customer experiences and they will often tell a story of where something has gone wrong, but it’s been rectified really, really well.

CX allows a business to focus and mobilise teams better so as to react better, to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach, to focus on the sharp edges of what it is we want to achieve and to do this for a very specific tribe of like-minded individuals and clients we serve. As a result, we at INN8 have chosen awesome CX as the mantra we live by.

Putting CX at the centre of our business means that everybody at INN8 thinks about customer intent, journeys and outcomes at every point for the very specific market we serve.

It doesn’t matter that some departments do not deal directly with the customer, they still influence the culture and the actions of those that do. Not only are we all a part of a team that produces enabling processes and technology, but they create training and support as well as environments that are conducive to meeting customers’ needs.

Next time you interact with a customer, see them as you would like to be seen. Make them feel validated, even if you aren’t able to solve their issue right there and then.

If you are convinced that CX is the next evolution of your business, stay tuned for my next article which offers up some guidance on building a business that delivers great CX.

Mickey has built up his business experience over the last 20 years. He has been there, and done that, with a cupboard full of proverbial t-shirts to show for it – from starting a micro-lending and E-commerce business to being an executive at corporate level.