Customer-centricity is always a leadership responsibility


Telkom’s Chief Executive Officer Mugo Kibati (centre) serving a client Mwihaki Kamau (left) with Catherine Mwita, customer care team leader, Telkom Mega shop in Nairobi on June 24, 2021.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

Many businesses claim to be customer-centric but few actually are. Customer-centric firms see themselves from the eyes of their clients. They believe that without them, their existence is at stake.

Such ventures do what needs to be done to fully understand and meet the needs of their patrons. They listen to their customers, they put their interest at heart in their decision-making and their actions are focused on them.

As a result, their strategy, people, processes are focused on the clients. Customer-centric businesses are intentional about building their culture around the customer. Such businesses are a rare gem!

Unfortunately, many others are not customer-centric. Such businesses do not seem to care much about the needs of their clients. Their strategy focuses mainly on revenues and profits without the recognition that the money is generated from customers.

Customer satisfaction

Some of these businesses go to the extent of claiming that their customers are too demanding and unreasonable. They consider them a pain, an interruption and the reason their firms do not thrive. When businesses are not intentional about customer satisfaction and retention, they lose focus.

With time, their customers walk away one by one, never to return. The leadership often finds enough reasons to blame the frontline staff for failing to hold on to the customer.

Management responsibility in customer-centrism is humongous. Overall, business leaders are expected to be visionaries, team-builders, problem-solvers, strategists, change agents, coaches, influencers, motivators, role models and more.

Great business leaders give meaning, provide direction, and inspire others to do what needs to be done. We must all recognise that leaders greatly influence the culture and strategy of their business. On matters customer-centricity, the buck stops with the leadership.

Are you as a business leader fully committed to helping your business meet the needs of your customers? Do you know what your customers’ needs are? Are you listening to your customers? Are you supporting your team in meeting the needs of the customers?


 If a business is customer-centric, it is a reflection of customer-centric leadership. If yours is well known for causing customer pain, you as a leader need to be fully involved in steering the business towards reducing the pain.

I believe that great leaders can transform their businesses into a new disposition. This requires a leadership with a customer-centric mindset. It means choosing a strategic direction that puts the customer at the heart of the business.

 Customer-centricity has to be evident in the decisions that the leaders make. It also has to be seen in the actions the leaders take both in the short and long-term. Furthermore, a customer-centric culture is only possible if the leadership is proactively driving it.

Business leaders need to stop blaming frontline staff when customers leave and point fingers at themselves. To create a customer-centric business, act today! Listen to your customers, listen to your frontline staff, focus your business on the customers' needs, and aim to reduce their pain. Choose to be customer-centric!

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