What does being customer-centric actually mean?

Customer-centric is a phrase that sits on just about any set of principles, mission, or objective within most organisations. That is awesome, but what does it actually mean? The phrase is too ambiguous, and its ambiguity gets in the way of it being practical. So it’s important, as you strive for it, to reduce its ambiguity and make it as practical as possible. 

Being customer-centric means working backward from a customer’s perspective. That can still mean a few things, but to understand the customer’s perspective, you’ll need to understand their context, goals, and needs in relation to your product. 

Their context will help you understand their demographics, behaviors, literacy, and opportunities. Their goals will help you understand what they’re trying to achieve with your product. Their needs will help you understand how to improve their experience while trying to achieve their goals with your product.

So a practical example of being customer-centric would be, as an organisation, maintaining a list of customer goals and needs that you can measure your efforts against. Customer goals should be your first priority, and then you can improve your customer's experience by meeting more of their needs along the experience.