That question gets asked a lot:
"What does customer centric mean?"
It means a lot of things; some definitions can be long and drawn-out, while others are more succinct. But one thing is certain: You know "Customer Centric" when you experience it, and you know it when you don't.
I had an experience of the later variety recently. I was scheduled to have a stereo installed in my wife's automobile at a local electronics retailer. The dealer from which I bought the vehicle was covering the cost of the stereo and installation under the warranty. They gave me a purchase order number to give to the electronics store.
Thursday before the scheduled Saturday appointment, I phoned the store, gave them the purchase order number, and confirmed the appointment.
Then came Saturday. I arrived at 10am sharp, and introduced myself to the man behind the counter, who happened to be the manager. The manager was quick to tell me that they would not do any work, without receiving a purchase order directly from the auto dealership. Even though I gave the P.O. number to one of his employees over the phone, and that employee told me that I was "all set," the manager was quick to inform me that that was not the case, and that I must have misunderstood. And he said it with the classic "hey, that's not my problem - I just work here, and abide by the rules" demeanor.
The store manager's mind was stuck between the pages of the company's policy and procedures book, and as a result, couldn't see the my dilemma as I stood right in front of him. His focus clearly was not on the customer.
A more customer-centric approach would have been for the manager to offer me a seat in the waiting area while he took the intiative to call the dealership to confirm the P.O. number. Instead, he threw me - his customer - between the pages of his company's policy and procedures manual, essentially telling me to dig my own way out.
Customer-centric, in its simplest and most pure sense, means making the customer's life easy; designing processes that are focused on delivering a positive experience to the customer; making it extremely easy for the customer to learn about you, buy from you, and get support from you when they need it.
There are always situations where the designed process doesn't flow as smoothly as intended. And those situations are the ones where your "Customer Centricity" is really tested. When a process goes off the tracks, customer centric businesses don't let the customer feel the bumps. They stay focused on delivering a positive customer experience, while they absorb the bumps through alternative or ad-hoc procedures.
That's the essence of "Customer Centric" - keeping the customer at the center of your focus, to ensure that you're always delivering a positive experience, regardless of the circumstances. Consistently positive experiences delivered repeatedly are what keep customers loyal, and prompt them to tell others about you.
Customer Centric Definition #2: When something goes wrong, own the problem, so that your customer doesn't have to.