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How CFOs Can Help Cultivate a Customer-Centric Mindset

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Cultivating a customer-centric mindset will put your organisation in a position to stand out over your competition. Organisations that fail to prioritize the customer experience risk, well, everything.

Customers and their needs should be at the center of every decision an organisation makes, and the first and last question in every business decision should be, "Will this work for our customers?" Your responsibility as the financial expert is to ensure this question is part of the discussion.

Key Takeaways: 

  • While we have always heard "the customer is always right," it's the CFOs responsibility to ensure that processes benefit all customers. 

  • CFOs help cultivate a customer-centric mindset by implementing and practicing operational-wide customer empathy. What are their emotional needs?   

  • Improve relationships and deliver timely services to customers. It will ensure that they feel like a priority, enriching their customer experience.

  • The CFO role entails ensuring company-wide information sharing so everyone is on the same page. If a system gets updated, they make sure every team is ready.

  • Training with customer-centric scenarios will help them better understand where the customer is coming from and how to meet their needs

    Source: YouTube

5 Ways CFOs Are Helping To Cultivate a Customer-Centric Mindset 

We all know the saying, "the customer is always right." You've likely used it at least once to describe a situation or to stop an argument. In today's customer-centric world, personal expectations are rapidly spilling over into the business world. 

Taking a customer-centric approach is more critical than ever. Here are five ways  CFOs can play a role in cultivating a customer-centric mindset.

1. Operationalise Customer Empathy  

Empathy is a buzzword we often hear, but few organisations recognise what it means, and much fewer practice it. 

Customer empathy is recognizing a customer's emotional needs, understanding their reasons and responding to them appropriately and effectively. It's surprisingly pretty rare.

Instilling empathy as a universal value that informs everything an organisation does means leaders must do more than pay lip service. Slack, an enterprise communications software company, operates with a pillar of empathy. 

Employees spend significant amounts of time reading customer messages and observing their behavior. They attempt to intuitively understand what customers want and need. Slack cultivates a customer-centric mindset throughout its entire enterprise. 

2. Improving Relationships 

Understanding your customers better helps build better relationships. As all CFOs know, that is the key to success in any business. When you know your customer's pain points, you can help them solve those problems and become successful. 

3. Delivering Timely Services to Customers 

Once you understand who your customers are and what they want, the next step is to ensure that your organisation's resources get appropriately deployed to deliver service on time.

It could be as simple as ensuring that your organisation continually shares that information with customers. Alternatively, it could be something more crucial to your organisation. 

Perhaps you are evolving and adapting your product line to meet changing customer needs or looking to track growth based on customer behaviors. Maybe you can better understand what customers can and cannot afford and restructure their pricing model accordingly.

4. Sharing Information Across the Company 

To better understand your customers, the CFO can take the lead to ensure the business shares information and enables a 360-degree view of each customer. You can ask the following  questions:

  • What patterns emerge when you combine sales data with customer service data and even spend data? 
  • What can you learn as a business about better serving your customers? 
  • How do we find our fastest-growing customers? 
  • How are their needs changing over time?  

This type of analysis is not possible without an organisational perspective. Who could be better suited than a CFO to lead this customer-centric effort? An automated solution providing the company with a central database of information also allows anyone with permission to pull a report. 

5. Train With Customer-Centric Scenarios 

Equally important, this customer focus extends to the culture throughout the entire company. Employees must be people centric, considering every customer. It may mean training or retraining employees to think that way. 

 A strong voice from the leadership team can interject on behalf of the customers and offer training with customer-centric scenarios.

For instance, the finance manager can train the sales team on the significance of each product price point. They can discuss why it is better for every customer when salespeople do not discount services for some or offer products at reduced pricing. 

In this case, as the CFO, you would bring the customers' needs into the discussion.

How a Lack of Customer Focus Can Hurt Your Business

Before we dive into why your organisation must cultivate a customer-centric mindset, let's review how this strategy will benefit your organisation. As you can see from the image below, all strategies lead back to what is best for the customer. 

Infographic of the benefits of a customer-centric strategy. 

Image Source: Oktopost

Of course, not understanding customer needs as they change over time can lead to poor customer retention. 

Lack of understanding hinders efforts to acquire new customers. Your organisation becomes obsolete and receives bad word of mouth from disappointed current customers.

Establishing a Customer-Centric Culture With Vena Solutions   

The CFOs role is ever evolving as the needs of the company change. Automation makes it easier for finance professionals to complete accounting tasks so they can lend their insights to other business decisions. 

With Vena, you get a strategic data hub that brings all your business-wide data and source systems together into a central database to ensure data accuracy. When you trust your data, you can make better customer-centric business decisions.  


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Your Customers, Vena's Solution

With more accurate reporting and streamlined business information, you can spend less time on tedious accounting tasks and more time establishing a customer-centric mindset at your company.


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About the Author

Melissa Howatson, Chief Financial Officer, Vena

Melissa Howatson, Chief Financial Officer at Vena, has a wealth of experience in financial and consulting roles, ranging from EdTech, automotive and Big Four accounting firms. She was CFO and board member at D2L—a global learning technology company—and led its successful initial public offering in 2021. Prior to that, she held finance leadership positions at Bend All Automotive, Qwalify and Primal. Melissa is a CPA-CA, having obtained her designation while working in KPMG's assurance practice. With her combination of scale-up and start-up experience, Melissa has an impressive track record of building and leading successful finance teams that drive the business forward.

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