How customer-centric is your business, really? In an economy where sales are down, operational budgets are tight and consumers have a firmer grip on disposable income; businesses can ill-afford to pay lip service to true service. After my previous experience opening a Nordstrom store and later serving as a former Director of Training & Organizational Effectiveness for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most service-driven professionals in the world. It is no coincidence that these individuals and organizations continue to be the benchmark in this area. World-class providers not only have the right answers to the following questions and they understand the hidden drivers of customer loyalty: the gift that keeps on giving.

What does it mean to be customer-centric?
To be customer-centric reflects more of the mindset and beliefs held by those committed to an exceptional level of service regardless of the industry. Having the right state of mind plays a huge role toward achieving desired service outcomes. It’s important to note that the word ‘centric’ comes from the root word for core, center or central. Therefore being a customer-centric superstar is not just what you do; it must become who you are.
Why is exceptional customer service so critical today?
Studies have consistently shown that poor service (i.e. attitude of indifference) is by far the No. 1 reason why customers will leave; over competitors and product defect. The Gallup Organization has found that the U.S. economy loses over $360 billion a year due to subpar service. With product features being so similar from one company to another, the customer experience is simply a great and low cost way to create a profitable distinction. Your competitors may imitate what you do, but it’s very difficult to imitate the way you do it. In this sluggish economy it has never been more important to ensure high quality, memorable touch points, engaged employees and consistency in the service experience. It’s simply a smart thing to do and the right thing to do.

How do you know when you’re in the customer-centric club?
There are several indicators to consider and the “Big Six” are right at the top of the list. Here are the top six things that over 90 percent of your customers should be able to say about your organization: 1) I consistently receive a warm greeting and fond farewell; 2) They remember me and call me by name; 3) I feel they are happy I’m a customer; 4) They seem to sincerely care about me as a person; 5) They are extremely responsive to my wants and needs; and 6) They anticipate my needs even before I ask.

Remember, your customers won’t like it if you give mediocre service but your competitors sure will. Commit everyday to the customer-centric way!

Chris Bryant is a leading authority on Customer Service, Client Relations, Business Etiquette and Personal Branding and is a former Director of Training & Organizational Effectiveness/Company Speaker for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. As a keynote speaker, career coach and consultant, his clients include Madison Square Garden, Gap Inc, Chrysler, Mattel, Nestlé, and the talent agency that represents Oprah, Brad Pitt, Tony Romo and LeBron James. For more information:,, or @BuildingMyBrand.