Business leaders simply have too much to do. Whether you own and run the business or are an executive in a big corporation, your role is becoming more complex. We have too much to do and not enough resources to do it.
Strategy is not for wussies. To create a vision, lead with that vision and actually execute on that vision is a constant state. Leaders have to provide guidance and wisdom and make sure their people understand what role they play in the bigger picture. How can leaders take an ordinary vision and make it extraordinarily focused on customers? How can they add another responsibility to the growing list for them and their teams? Here are a few ideas for those time-strapped warriors.
1. Create a customer centric mission.
I have written about this and speak on this quite a bit. It’s something anyone can do. If your business mission statement stinks (many do), then write a customer-centric mission for your team, your department or even for just yourself. Understanding what kind of experience you want to deliver is a huge step in the right direction.
2. Match up your metrics.
Measuring the success of your work based on how many customers you acquired is not a very customer-centric metric. Make sure you measure success with metrics focused on loyalty, engagement or sentiment. Are your customers happy? Do you know why? Do you know what is missing?
3. Find customer stories.
I worked with one executive who would end each day by listening in on the call center for 15 minutes. He did this to see if he could find one quote from a customer. The quotes were both good and bad, but always powerful. One I remember is when he captured a frustrated customer’s rant ending with “And then you really ticked me off because you disappointed my grandmother.” He would take these quotes and write them on a white board outside his office. Each day, a new customer quote would appear and remind everyone who saw it what customer experience really means. The quotes made customers real and human to the office workers who would never deal with them directly.
4. Reward your customer advocates.
Leaders should look for ways to reward customer-centric behavior from employees at every level. Get creative and help your people recognize the kind of behavior you want as a customer-centric organization. It’s not just about the customer service reps who respond well to customers. Reward those employees who make changes in the processes to make it easier for customers. Reward those who don’t stop until they discover the root cause of common customer complaints. Look for ways to help others think “Oh, I can do that!”
5. Speak with humility.
Leaders often have the false belief they are in charge. The best leaders know the customers are in charge, and can get anyone fired at any point. (tweet!) Customer-centric organizations use language that recognizes who the real bosses are. Leaders who constantly refer to customers in positive and optimistic ways create cultures of respect. Respecting the customer is a key part of any customer-centric organization. I feel for leaders today because it simply is “too much” in many cases. But the beauty of creating a customer-centric strategy is how it pays back. Happy employees lead to happy customers who lead to not only more business but also more customers. It’s a really lovely little cycle! What can you do as a leader in your organization?