Be more customer centric: ThinkRetail [talk]

| 27 June 2022

This a talk that Jacky Smith presented at the 2022 Google ThinkRetail convention in Cape Town South Africa.

Jacky Smith talking ThinkRetail about costumer centricity

While How Might We is relatively young, our team have been working together in UX in South Africa for more than 11 years. Back in the day, we used slightly more technical terminology: HCI, then we saw that turn into UCD, and then UX.

We’ve seen a change

11 years ago, selling User-Centred Design in any industry in South Africa was a hard sell. Companies really liked the idea of being able to talk to their customers but really grappled with the business value it held and what to do with the insights once they got them.

Thankfully we have come a long way, and over the last decade, we have really seen this shift. It’s not uncommon for organisations to have internal teams of UX designers and even researchers, like many of you sitting here today do. Caring about what your customers think is a big win. Being able to respond and adapt to your customer’s ever-changing needs (from within the building) is a critical part of being able to call yourself customer-centric, but it really is only beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to be customer-centric as an organisation.

Like any transformational undertaking we have observed the burden of change and how organisational structures and processes have and continue to make it difficult to implement customer-centricity into the culture and fabric of organisations.


Google noticed the same thing!

In 2021, Google commissioned a research study into this exact area as they noticed that many companies wanted to do the right thing but their organisations and ways of working tripped them up. They ended up never launching anything or would take a very long time to get across the line. Google hypothesised that the companies that were better at this were driven by a common organising principle; they were customer centric. Spoilers, they weren’t wrong, the Impact of customer-centricity on an organisations ability to be successful exceeded expectations.


The results of the study

Their research found that 64% of organisations are underperforming when it comes to customer centricity. For the 36% who are performing well they could see that their revenue is growing 9x faster year on year than their underperforming counterparts.

Not only that:

  • Higher employee satisfaction rates
  • They are able to make changes in their business much faster
  • More likely to include qualitative research in strategic decision making
  • More likely to effectively communicate strategic direction to employees
  • More likely to embed user researchers into delivery teams

How customer-centric are you?

Off the back of the study CX Partners have released a survey that any company can use to:

1. Get a tangible customer-centricity score.
2. Get actionable, personalised recommendations on how and where to improve.

The survey is made up of 77 largely multiple-choice questions which are then rated and a  report is generated and sent to you. The reports are automatically generated which means this can scale to any company that wants to take part, whether you are big or small. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the self-assessment.


Your customer-centricity rating.

After filling in the survey you will get an overall score out of 6. This score will be benchmarked against all brands across all sectors as well as benchmarked against other brands in your industry. And because it’s a number, it can be attached to KPIs and easily monitored over time.


Centricity rating on 5 dimensions

Having a single number is great as a summary of how your business is doing, but to get a more detailed view, you can drill down into 5 dimensions.


Organisations have the right skills to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Organisational structure and culture support teams to perform well.


Strong processes prompt people to do the right things. Teams are empowered to focus on customer needs.


Managers have the right methods to form clear strategies, evaluate performance, and prioritize resources to achieve the organisation’s goals.


Teams have the right tools, facilities, suppliers, and environments (both physical and digital) to work effectively.


The organisation effectively communicates its objectives, provides rapid feedback on progress and problems, and shares information about opportunities and constraints.


Personalised recommendations & next steps

For each of the dimensions, you will get recommendations on areas you can improve with concrete next steps. The first time you do this, you may not get all the recommended interventions for a particular area. You will get a prioritised list so as to not make it overwhelming. You don’t need to run before you can walk.


Who fills it out?

Because this relates to business strategy, the higher up in business the better. One really nice example that we have heard, was a company that took a board meeting to fill in the survey together. The questions are probing and will cause some great conversion. Ideally, a few people from a business do the survey as people’s perspectives of the organisation will be different. It only takes 30 mins, but some of the questions require some thought. So dedicate the time and answer them properly. It will be worth it.

Your next steps

1. Do the self-assessment! (it takes about 30 mins)

2. Share the report with the Google relationship lead (if you have one)
It will give them really interesting insights about your company and the challenges you’re facing.

3. Do it again in 6 months to see how you have improved.

4. There are partners to help
If you have a digital transformation partner, these insights will help your conversations and if there are any UX research recommendations, feel free to give us a call. 


The slides from the talk