In the new series “Partner Vision,” the RevelX partners introduce themselves. They tell which road led them to RevelX, and which activities they employ at our firm. In each installment, one of our partners will give their vision on a hot topic in their professional fields.
In this first installment, we give the microphone to Eric de Groot. Eric was senior partner for 13 years at the consultancy firm, Boer & Croon. In 2014 he founded RevelX. We want to know Eric’s take on customer-centricity.
Hi Eric, have you been innovating all your life?
“I was born in an entrepreneurial family. I was born and raised with business principles. My father was the managing director of an Emergency Generator firm. On Saturdays, I often accompanied him to the factory, where he proudly showed me their latest projects. There was also a secret department that worked for the Ministry of Defence, so that was very exciting for a little boy.
That’s why I first started studying technology, mechanical engineering and IT. But I graduated in business administration − strategic marketing to be precise. This technical background has given me a good foundation for the rest of my career.
Innovating is a common thread in my career, because I’m bored quickly. I think I would be a bad CEO. 80% of their time is spent running the day-to-day operations and fixing others’ problems. CEOs often recognize this in face-to-face conversations. The other 20% is the fun part − building new things. I have the advantage that I can do just that; I can do it for my own company and for our customers.”
What role does customer-centricity play in your work for RevelX?
“Companies that want to be more customer-centric hire me. I visit, for example, the clients of our clients. Sometimes I speak for more than 3 hours with them to hear what makes them tick, what is really going on. This type of customer interview is often just the beginning of customer-centricity. I bring the world of the customer into the organizations I work for. Customers’ journeys, pains and problems, play an essential first step in looking for new (disruptive) opportunities. Not only for our customers by the way, but also for our own company RevelX. And I always tend to see the opportunities and try to translate them into new business propositions.”
What is your definition of customer-centricity?
“Putting the customer first is primarily a mentality. You have to breathe customer-centricity and feel it in your gut. It is not about the latest smart CRM tooling, new business processes, account management systems and all other management textbook methods and tools. It’s about people first!”
What questions should CEOs ask themselves to make sure they are truly customer-centric?
“If I have a couple of CEOs in the room, I always do a little test. I ask them: How much of your time do you actually spend with customers? I count down, beginning at 100 percent. Invariably, half in the room will be under the 40 percent bracket. A lot of people think 40 percent is a lot, while I think this is the minimum. The person who answers 60 percent is often asked during the coffee break: How do you do that? The real problem is that CEOs are too busy with their day-to-day hassles, and don’t prioritize enough time for their customers.
So, the second question is whether they really want to be a customer-centric organization and are willing to act accordingly? Really listening to individual client needs and translating these insights into overwhelming customer experiences and compelling value propositions.
In a real customer-centric organization, every employee walks the extra mile for his or her customers. Every employee is a contact point of your organization with customers or potential customers. So, the first thing a customer-centric enterprise should do − hire a good receptionist! But also the factory worker in your workshop is an ambassador of your company at the occasional birthday party.”
Many organizations are not customer-centric. What is the reason in your estimation?
“Many organizations are just too busy with manufacturing and pushing products out the door. Customers come third place or second at best. Some even think that customer-centricity will cost them more money! Many organizations are solely built around the idea of operational excellence. Forgetting the sole reason why they exist in the first place. This internal focus is often hampering organizations in their essential need to transform into customer-centricity.”
And, how customer-centric are you?
“Customer-centricity is really just everything I do. I live by that. It is what moves me. It is my first nature.
At RevelX, we may even be a little too customer-centric! We drop everything when a client needs us.”
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