Organize for Delivery

You’ll know your organization is fully customer-centric when employees are empathetic and insights drive strategy, products, and experiences. Learn to move in that direction.

What does it mean to become more customer-centered?

A customer-centric organization structures itself around customers and their evolving needs. CGAP identified five pillars that support customer centricity, including committed leadership and a customer-focused culture; operations focused on customers; and employees empowered to provide positive customer experience.

A customer-centric organization creates value for multiple stakeholders – customers, employees, and shareholders – by targeting change across the organization. It takes time to catalyze this change, embed new processes, and shift mindsets toward new behaviors. The pace of change must also match your organization’s readiness. Remember, it doesn’t happen overnight – and you create your own change journey.

Key Resources

Low-income women experience poor customer service at a bank branch in Pakistan.

What makes up a customer-centric architecture?

4 supporting systems work together to build a customer-centric architecture: 

System 1: Innovation management systems enable organizations to create and improve customer solutions and business processes. If done well, they’re a key driver of the change process.

System 2: Aligning, empowering, and managing human resources. People are at the heart of every customer-centric organization and employees are seen as “internal customers.” This type of organization builds new systems to align, manage, and empower employees.

System 3: Performance measurement systems. Measuring what matters drives positive customer-centric transformation: value for customers, employees, and organizations.

System 4: Partnerships. An organization’s ability to generate value and respond to evolving customer needs is enhanced by external partnerships.

Key Resources

group of low-income men and women work together at an outdoor table, showing how people are at the heart of every interaction

What does the shift to customer centricity look like?

The shift requires a change in habits, mindsets, and routines inside your organization. To go from seeing customers as “transactions” to seeing them as whole people can be challenging for providers with limited insights into customer needs and wants.

Customer-centric organizations shift from centralized decision-making to giving front-line employees the power to solve customer problems. They move from working in silos to integrating employee skills, ideas, and capabilities to solve problems and create experiences. They shift from constant “catch-up” mode to being agile in response to evolving markets and customer demands.

Key Resources

Low-income woman in Kenya looks at papers on table during a one-on-one customer insights qualitative research interview in her home.

What do customer-centric employees and agents look like?

Customer-centric employees and agents are empowered to deliver a customer experience that generates value for themselves, their organization, and their customers. They are deeply committed to and capable of delivering this type of customer experience.

Although they perform various functions and bring different perspectives to the workplace (based on their past experience), customer-centric employees and agents possess a core set of skills, values, and attitudes that enable their success. They are able to empathize, communicate, and collaborate effectively. They are service-oriented problem solvers. Read more about the qualities of customer-centric employees and agents in the resource below.

Key Resources

Woman employee at Janalakshmi, India, works on customer empowerment for low-income customer segments

What drivers motivate firms to explore and invest in customer centricity?

5 main drivers motivate firms to explore and invest in customer centricity.
They also determine the benefits that result from adopting this new approach.

  1. Increase customer uptake and use. Findex data show that about 20 percent of adults with a financial account have left it unused for at least a year. For mobile money, the inactivity rate is nearly 75 percent. To increase uptake and usage, it’s important to understand how to meet customer needs.
  2. Improve market position. In a mature, highly competitive market, increased sensitivity to customer priorities may help differentiate your organization.
  3. Use technology to tailor products to specific customer segments while driving down costs. Digital distribution channels can help make your offerings more personalized and convenient while lowering costs.
  4. Proactively respond to regulatory requirements on consumer protection. Regulators are putting pressure on institutions to protect consumers, treat them fairly, reduce fees, and increase transparency. Becoming more customer-centered can increase your ability to meet requirements.
  5. Achieve social impact to fulfill your mission. Many organizations have dual financial and social goals. Financially excluded customers need products well-suited to their needs and delivered with a high degree of care and protection. A drive to better understand and serve customers can be a powerful tool for social impact. 

Key Resources

Entrepreneur laughs in her place of business - a fruit stall. Low-income earners like this woman require financial services tailored to their business and personal financial needs – and delivered in a user-friendly, customer-centric approach.