CX Speak

The Journey For A Customer-Centric Cultural Change: An Exclusive Interview With Mr. Sumit Nadgir, Director, TrueNorth

At Customer Guru, we believe that Customer Experience (CX) should be the number one priority for all the Indian businesses so that they become more sustainable and successful globally. Thus, we are on a mission to spread this awareness, inspiring and guiding professionals to adopt and inculcate a customer-centric approach. We are certain that this is a first step to help organizations WOW their customers and create raving fans for themselves.

Continuing with our initiative of sharing experiences of top-notch CX experts, we have another gem of an interview with Mr. Sumit Nadgir, Director at TrueNorth. Mr. Nadgir joined TrueNorth in 2016 and has been closely involved in supporting and building TrueNorth companies across different sectors including healthcare, consumer goods, industrial services, etc. Prior to this, he was a Principal with Bain & Co. where he supported several domestic & multinational firms across sectors including industrial goods & services, textiles, chemicals, infrastructure, healthcare, consumer goods dealing with growth strategies, operational efficiency, cost reduction, organization effectiveness, etc. Before Bain, he helped set up an engine manufacturing plant for the Kirloskar Group and implement lean systems across their operations. Earlier, he worked with Johnson & Johnson Medical, where he managed the sales of cardiac devices.

In this exclusive interview with Customer Guru, Mr. Nadgir has shared with us several tips that would help organizations in overcoming the challenges that they face in bringing about a customer-centric cultural change. He also talks about the need to leverage customer reviews in order to bring about this change in an organization.

We invite our readers to comment and ask questions on challenges they might be facing in their organizations when setting up a customer-centric culture. We would be more than happy to help. This article is framed in a question-answer format; please feel free to share your feedback on the article too.

Having worked across various industries, what has your journey been like? What role has customer centricity and customer experience played in your career?

Customer centricity is the buzz word now and is getting a lot of attention. However, it has always been a very critical aspect of the business.

I see a very clear shift today in companies from an operational focus to more of the “moment-of-truth” focus. Everybody want to ensure that the customer, be it a B2B or a B2C scenario, becomes a promoter at the end. This is exactly why NPS has become so popular now and you see everybody asking customers if they would like to recommend the product or service to others!

Which is one customer-centric initiative you’ve driven that you’re really proud? How did you overcome the challenges and what was the result you achieved?

Frankly, I am not proud of any of the customer-centric initiatives because I don’t think anybody manages to do a thorough job. This is one of those buzz words which makes a lot of sense theoretically but is not so easy to achieve practically.

Firstly, a lot of people don’t really know what the customers want – they just assume what is needed. Secondly, they don’t measure it. Even if they do, they don’t align their organizations to be sensitive towards the outcomes. Thirdly, even if an organization is sensitized, a lot of people don’t drill deep into understanding what the customer is really trying to say. Finally, the robustness of the feedback-to-action system is always questionable. Many organizations put processes in place to raise tickets for customer issues, calling it a customer-centric cultural change whereas it actually works on an IT system.

Customer centricity is a cultural change, and it takes a couple of years to be ingrained into the system.

How do you think start-ups can prioritize initiatives that will help build a customer-centric culture?

First thing is to measure and monitor customer experience and make it a very important part of the KPIs of employees. I believe this works very well in sensitizing the whole organization to realize the importance of being customer-centric.

One of the key challenges that any business faces is the need to prioritize since there are so many things to look into. And, unless there is a top-down clear prioritization of wanting to be the best in delivering customer experience, there would be no cultural change.

All companies need to put a robust system in place to primarily understand the customer’s peeves, rather than depending on random anecdotes about what the customer wants. For example, considering the scenario of hospitals, one might assume that patients hate the long waiting times for meeting doctors. On the other hand, when asked, most of them don’t really mind all the waiting because they see the huge demand for the doctor as a proxy to the quality of care to expect. Thus, from the outside, one might assume a certain thing to be an issue for the customers whereas they might not even be worried about that.

Another important thing in all of this is that people tend to focus only on the detractor reviews. Interestingly, the promoters give amazing constructive feedback, which gets lost. This is human because when organizations get so much feedback, it is hard to decide where to look and where not to. However, they need to have a process in place to realize that promoters genuinely want their business to improve and are giving them good feedback.

As a Venture Capitalist, there are multiple aspects that you would be looking at when evaluating organizations. Do you also evaluate their focus on customer centricity? If yes, then how do you evaluate how good they are at it?

For most of the businesses, customer centricity is important. The kind of industries that we have been looking into tend to be B2C and, hence, customer centricity does get evaluated. The evaluation is done on the basis of two angles. The first is to check the internal processes within each of these companies. As I said, because it is all about the cultural change, it is very easy to give it a lip service rather than actually doing it. For instance, if you talk to an HR executive, he would always say that the organization has a very good fast-track system and a very good performance management system in place for performance tracking. However, if one actually checks whether the systems are working or not, one would realize that the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Thus, it is necessary to look a little deeper and diligently at the process implementation.

The other aspect is the feedback from the customer. The key litmus test is the NPS of the organization. NPS of the company, when compared to its competitors or to industry norms, gives an instant indication of the company’s customer-centric culture.

What would be your word of advice to any business that is trying to become customer-centric?

The first and foremost thing is a top-down approach to customer centricity. Organizations need to be clear as to where customer centricity falls in their priorities. It is crucial to realize that customer centricity is the means to an end. This is where organizations must evaluate customer-focused initiatives against the other initiatives. If the former is important, then they need to put a measuring system in place. Once that is done, they should make it as a part of KPI for all the key employees.

Another point to make note of is that it is very easy to influence the NPS from the customer. There have to be some ways to ensure that businesses are getting genuine an NPS rating. Otherwise, it is very easy to feel good that NPS is high. Unfortunately, many companies fall for that. Hence, they need to have a process to ensure that they are continuously trying to improve.

Another mistake which companies make is that they get very happy about their one time NPS number. They don’t realize that the number is not relevant, it is the journey from there-on which is important. You need to continuously strive the improve it further.

Connect with Sumit Nadgir on LinkedIn

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