Rather than thinking customer-centric, how about thinking people-centric?
While customer experience strategies must include a priority focus on the employee experience (i.e., they are first!), they often don’t. Many companies believe that they can improve the customer experience without improving the employee experience.
I’ve heard that said many times over the last 25 years. It doesn’t get any easier to hear over time. And the thinking is just as erroneous now as it was back then.
If you want to move beyond cosmetic changes and lip service to real changes in the customer experience, you must first look at the employee experience.
To improve both, you must first look to company culture and leadership. At the root of what both employees and customers experience with a company is its culture, and that culture must be one designed to focus on both of their needs – and put them and their needs before profits or shareholder value.
Does your company have a people-centric culture, or is it profit-centric and profit-driven?
Yes, companies must make money, but there’s a better way to do it that benefits all constituencies involved.
Culture is so important to your business.
The right culture is even more important. If you ask me, the right culture is always one that is customer-centric. Putting the customer at the heart of the business is what makes the world, er, the business, go round.Recall that culture is values + behaviors.
After you define the core values for the business, you have to then provide examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for each, as well as the outcomes associated with living these values. All of this ensures that every employee understands the values and what they mean – for them, for customers, and for the business. In other words, the values must be defined, socialized, and operationalized.
When you’re defining and designing your customer-centric culture – it is and must be deliberately designed to be that way – it’s important that at least some of the values align with the actions and behaviors you expect from employees as they interact with your customers (and with each other).
A few examples include: listening, WOW customers, people first, customers first, deliver WOW through service, customer obsession, obsess about our members, focus on the customer and all else will follow, strong relationships create guests for life, innovation, service excellence, collaboration, customer trust, etc. You get the idea. You don’t have to have values that mention the customer, just values that align with the customer-centric culture that you want to create.
This is where we start to see that values create value.
Values that reflect a customer-centric culture will certainly ensure that the customer voice is woven into daily operations across departments, business lines, divisions, etc. – across the entire organization – and that no decisions are made without considering the impact on the customer. Then and only then will you be in a position to innovate, to drive continuous improvement, and to create value, for customers and for the business. Innovation is one of the benefits of a customer-centric business.
Customers provide feedback. Businesses listen, co-create, and innovate to solve customer problems. When you solve problems for customers, you’re creating value for them. And that sells a lot more products than creating something no one wants. In the end, both customers and the business win.
Culture is a driving force in creating value for customers and for the business. Yes, values do create value.
First, when your values drive a customer-centric culture, you’re putting customers at the center of all you do – again, no discussions, decisions, or designs without thinking about the customer. Solving problems for customers creates value for them – and ultimately creates value for the business.
Second, when customers’ values align with the brand’s values, when customers are aligned with a brand’s purpose, they are more likely to prefer, purchase from, and recommend the brand to others than those who are not.
So, what are your company’s values? And can you see how they create value? If not, it might be time to revisit.
If you are not creating value for others, then you are wasting your time. – Bryant H. McGill
Blog Credit: Annette Franz - CX-Journey.com
Image Credit: Unsplash