IMRB International, in collaboration with Walker Information, conducted a day long seminar on 'Building customer-centric organisations’ in Mumbai on February 17. The seminar’s objective was to address the challenges that organisations face in measuring and managing changing expectations of employees and customers. The key topic of discussion was the link between an organisation’s relation with its employees and in turn with its customers.
Steven F Walker, Chairman, President and CEO, Walker Information, a world leader in measuring stakeholder relationships and corporate reputation, was the keynote speaker at the forum. The seminar also featured case studies of six leading Indian companies – Airtel, Hero Honda, KSB Pumps, Taj Hotels, Shoppers’ Stop and Titan.
According to Walker, companies got the customers they deserved because customers were smart. Organisations first need to ask themselves about the kind of customers that they are trying to attract as this will help them build their business plan. The most important aspect of business is not sales but first building a long term customer centric business framework.
He added that though it was important for every company to have a customer centric framework, they needed to customise these programmes depending on the company being manufacturing-based or service-based. For instance, a manufacturing-based organisation should focus more on brand equity as opposed to a service-based organization, which should focus more on delivering quality services to customers.
The company-specific case studies started with Airtel, which is today the only operator to be present in all 23 circles. According to the case study, competition is beneficial for consumers (as it offers them more choices) and companies (as it helps them innovate and observe best practices). To assess its customers, Airtel started the Customer Relationship Assessment (CRA) in 1996 that was conducted every six months. After this, Airtel moved to a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) that took into account both the input and output metrics. At Airtel, CRA moves from focusing on customers to also focusing on employee motivation to balance the scorecard and give balanced results. Airtel wants to be the most admired brand in India – across all categories – by 2010.
Hero Honda’s secret to success was offering more to customers even when they did not demand it. Leadership at Hero Honda is not just sales volume, but a total assessment of customer experience and customer satisfaction management. Hero Honda’s programme to assess customer satisfaction was based on the hierarchy of customer loyalty such as customer purchase experience, product experience and service experience. At Hero Honda, it was very important to connect with its various dealers to know customer experiences on both product as well as services levels. Once Hero Honda identified areas of potential strengths and weaknesses, it standardised processes at the dealer level to make customer assessment easier. These were on levels such as showroom infrastructure, service levels, stationary, signages, introducing floor supervisors and customer care executives and training programmes for workshop personnel. All this has resulted in Hero Honda enjoying a 50 per cent market share currently.
Things were a little different at Shoppers’ Stop and Taj Hotels as they are service-oriented organisations rather than manufacturing-oriented. The key findings made by both these organisations was that services offered by employees have a significant impact on customer loyalty as they directly deal with customers. Both Shoppers’ Stop and Taj Hotels implemented detailed and formal programmes to understand and manage employees and improve service levels.
The common thread between all the case studies suggested that market and financial performance is dependent on a company's internal processes. However, the most vital link between market performance and internal processes is the satisfaction measurement of customers.
IMRB also presented a study based on its research conducted amongst leading corporates in India. The survey brought forth IMRB’s opinions regarding the followed best practices and challenges these companies faced while building customer centric organisations.