While delivering great work and customer service is certainly not a new concept, I was recently reminded of innovative ways to be a truly customer-centric organization. As I mentioned in my recent blog post, TCS had the pleasure of hosting SAP CEO Bill McDermott at our Mumbai office recently, where he shared his insights and life experiences from his book, “Winners Dream”.
In addition to his experiences motivating and engaging employees, Bill talked about his customer-centric approach to business, urging us to keep our customers and their business needs at the center of our business at all times.
The importance of listening and responding to customers is something Bill learned early in his career. He told us the story of how, when he was running a neighborhood deli in New York as a teenager, he took the time to talk to and connect with both his customers and his competitors. As a result, he was able to tailor his offerings to meet the diverse needs of his customers.
For the senior citizens at a nearby assisted living home, he offered delivery, so they wouldn’t have to leave their homes. For the tradesmen who lived paycheck-to-paycheck, he offered the option to buy with credit during the week and settle their accounts on Fridays when they got their paychecks. To serve the teenagers that the 7-Eleven a block away only allowed to enter the store four at a time for fear they would shoplift, he built a video game room and welcomed groups of any size. It worked, and his business thrived. This was the beginning, he said, of his being a customer-centric CEO.
Years later he brought that same approach to SAP America. When he was hired as CEO in 2002, the company was losing market share and key employees were defecting to the booming dot-com world. Competition was brutal. But instead of trying to reinvent the company, Bill led the charge to reorient it: “We reoriented everything to the customer—their business, their business model, their innovation, their dreams, what they were trying to achieve. We fit ourselves into that plan, so we could do more for them and care more for them than any other company.”
The notion of being customer-centric is an approach that I think cannot be overemphasized. For a fast growing, global company like TCS it can be easy to start taking customers for granted. After all, as one of the world’s largest SAP practices, with more than 550 projects completed across industry verticals, 300+ customer engagements and many awards under our belt, we are, by any measure, succeeding. So we must be doing something right, right?
Yet Bill’s words reminded me just how important it is to not get so caught up in the strength of our current offerings that we become complacent. To keep up with the breakneck speed of technological changes it’s even more critical that we listen to our customers, understand their needs, and pay attention to how their business models are changing, so we can innovate accordingly. And this needs to be an ongoing process. Because as Bill so succinctly said, “The day you figure everything out is the day you start to lose.”
Many thanks again to our partner SAP and to Bill McDermott for sharing his inspiring words with us. I know our TCS SAP experts are enthusiastically looking forward to meeting with many of our customers at the upcoming SAPPHIRE NOW, May 17-19 in Orlando, and we’ll all be thinking about new ways to keep them at the center of all that we do. I look forward to your comments here and encourage you to set up time to meet with us at the show or in your office to talk about how we can help you achieve your business goals.