It takes something to run a marathon. It takes something to orient your organisation around the customer. It takes something to be a “Customer Company”. And it takes a lot more than technology or changing some processes here an there.
What does it takes to be a “Customer Company”? It takes passion. It takes steadfast commitment. This passion and commitment has to reside in the hearts of your senior management (“Tops”). And this passion and commitment has to be visible and experienced throughout your organisation.
Why does it take this level of passion and commitment from your Tops? Because an authentic shift toward customer-centricity requires changes at multiple levels: priorities, policies, practices, processes, people, and platforms. This kind and scale of change only occurs when there is genuine passion, commitment and leadership from the people at the very top of your organisation.
How can you work out if the Tops in your organisation have this kind of passion and commitment to creating a “Customer Company”? There are dreams. There are intentions. There are fine sounding words. And then there is how people show up in the world: their being and their doing. Which is my way of saying that you should pay attention to how people show up in the world, not what they say. With that in mind, I propose that you ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do the Tops know how many customers we have gained over the last month, how many we have lost, and the impact on our business?
2. How much time and effort did the Tops expend last month serving our existing customers – in the stores, in the call-centres etc?
3. What actions have the Tops taken, over the last month, to walk in the shoes of our customers? Have they bought one of our products? Have they attempted to assemble-use our product? Have they called customer services to return a product? Have they read our marketing literature etc?
4. When was the last time the Tops called our customers to thank them and learn what enticed them to choose us over our competitors?
5. When was the last time the Tops rang up customers who have chosen to stop doing business with us to find out what caused them to leave us? And what it will take to win them back?
6. When was the last time that the Tops met with a cross-section of our frontline people, individually and/or collectively, to get access to their experience and their thoughts on what is and is not working for them, for our customers? Is this type of meeting a regular event or a one-off?
7. Have the Tops ever been undercover to experience the reality of being on the frontline?
8. Do the Tops know how many of our frontline employees have left us, why, and the impact of this turnover on our customers, and our business?
9. How much time do the Tops devote per week, per month, per quarter on discussing what they have learned/experienced by talking with our customers, and our frontline employees?
10. What changes are the Tops making in terms of priorities, policies, practices, processes, people and platforms?