7 Habits Of A Truly Customer-Centric Selling Organization

Note that this is an updated version of a white paper that first appeared in December 2001. Over the years it has been the most read white paper of all. Although it reflects policies that one hopes most companies would now be applying, this still seems to be the exception rather than the rule.  

In March 2000, Harvey Thompson of IBM published a book, “The Customer-Centered Enterprise: How IBM and Other World-Class Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results by Putting Customers First” (McGraw-Hill).


In his book, Harvey Thompson suggests that an organization like Amazon.com is one of the best examples of a customer-centered company. At the other end of the scale, he puts Microsoft as an example of a product-driven company. I am sure we can all relate to what Thompson is saying.

The book has some excellent advice on how being customer-centered in your marketing and your selling can produce much better business results than the product-driven approach. In some ways, Thompson did not go far enough. The real key is to try to relate to how the customer sees our company. How will our typical customer feel when he or she contacts our company?

We should try to stand in the shoes of our customers. Doing that, how does our company rate? The following 7 habits distinguish the truly customer-centric organization from a business that merely thinks a lot about its customers. Why not score your own company and see how you rate.

1. We Have A Promise For Our Customers, Not Just A Mission For Ourselves

We have a Mission statement for the company, which is like this:
Does not mention customers Score 0
Mostly about the company Score 1
50/50 company / customer Score 2
Mostly about what we will provide to our customers Score 3
A clear commitment to our customers of what we will provide them Score 4

2. We Bundle Services In With Our Products

We only provide products Score 0
We provide minimal services with our products Score 1
Our services are as good as our average competitor Score 2
Our services are as good as the best of the competition Score 3
We provide the full services that any customer might want Score 4

3. Our Website Is A Welcoming Door, Not A Magnificent Edifice

Our website is like this:
An impressive view of all that the company represents Score 0
Our customers can find what they want if they are persistent Score 1
50/50 for general visitors and for customers Score 2
Mostly for the customer Score 3
Our customers can easily see how to get the information they need Score 4

4. The Customer Finds It Easy To Contact Us, By Whatever Method Is Convenient

There are four usual ways of contacting any company – telephone, fax, email message, website form. How many of these can the customer easily find from your website?
We don’t have a website Score 0
One way Score 1
Two ways Score 2
Three ways Score 3
All four ways Score 4

5. Our Telephone System Is “Customer-Friendly” And Not Just Cost-Effective

Most calls are greeted by a gruff human being Score 0
Most customers must wait until they then talk to a machine Score 1
Most customers talk to a machine but can get a human being Score 2
We have a rapid automatic call reception system with a human being easily available Score 3
Most calls are greeted by a friendly human being Score 4

6. Our Customer Has One Main Contact Who Makes Everything Happen

No designated contact and no information kept about customers Score 0
Several contacts but little information kept about customers Score 1
Several contacts but with a good information logging system Score 2
Two main contacts with a good information logging system Score 3
There is one main contact for each customer Score 4

7. Our Customer Service Gives The Service The Customer Really Wants

A stress-relief process for complaints but no changes result Score 0
Sympathetic hearing that may produce minor results Score 1
Tries to correct the problem Score 2
Corrects the problem and can offer minor compensation for trouble if pushed Score 3
Really impresses customer as they “Make it right” Score 4

So add up your scores for the 7 habits and see how your organization rates in its marketing and its selling.

Total score 0 – 14 You probably turn off a large proportion of potential customers 15 – 20 You probably irritate some of your potential customers 21 – 25 You’re doing pretty well but the competition may do better 26 – 28 Now you’re a company I would like to buy from.


So how did your organization do? Perhaps you feel the rating is too critical. However with the Internet, the customer is now in the driving seat. Some companies are really giving incredible service and that is what is setting the standard for what customers expect. This is not rocket science. All it takes is a little more thinking and a little more attention to detail. So why not join the winners.

Look at each of the questions where you scored less than 4 and see whether you should be doing more to make your customer feel valued.

Freelance writing

I hope you enjoyed this article, which is seen by many appreciative visitors. Part of that comes from its visibility in Google keyword searches.

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Barry Welford

If you would like your organization more customer-centric, then SMM will be happy to help you figure out your best approach. Our help can be configured to meet exactly the needs you have. Our strengths, experience and creativity can complement those of your company. So Contact Us today on what you’re looking for without obligation.

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