Customer centricity has become the new boardroom buzzword. But for some companies, it seems likely to stay in the boardroom unless there's a practical plan of action that affects all the ways in which your customers can interact with you, at all levels of the organization.
Of course, customer centricity isn't necessarily required for success. As Keith Block, Oracle's North American sales and consulting executive vice president, notes in his interview, Oracle has been notoriously rough on its customers in years past. Despite the growth that Oracle experienced during those same years, Block is adamant that fielding that type of sales force not only hurts the customer but does long-term damage to the company as well. Today a more mature, expansive view of customer centricity is powering Oracle's approach to its customers—and the customer feedback we're seeing shows that it works.
For any company, building a long-term road map that incorporates customer centricity is critical, however you choose to interpret the term. The key is figuring out what it means to your company, your customers, and your employees and establishing plans and procedures that get you on the right track—or further down the track you're already on.
Even better, it's not just your customers who will benefit—employees who have better relationships with happier customers are likely to find their jobs more satisfying as well. Gaining the respect of customers and being able to act as a trusted advisor and partner will help make the entire corporate ecosystem of any company a more balanced, cohesive environment. And that's always good for business.
On another note, registration for Oracle OpenWorld 2008 (September 21-25) is just getting started, and hotels in San Francisco are undoubtedly beginning to fill up. Oracle OpenWorld is the premier show for anyone involved in Oracle, as a customer or as a partner. There's simply no better place to learn about Oracle's products and services and the road map for its customers, meet and network with other Oracle users, and just have fun. New information about the event is constantly being added to our Web site—get the latest at oracle.com/openworld.
Margaret Terry Lindquist is editor in chief of Profit magazine.