In a major customer centricity programme I ran a number of years ago, we interviewed over 100 people at all levels of the organisation. We wanted to understand how customer-centric they considered themselves to be and compare these findings to the behaviour of the whole business.
The results were staggering: a full 100% of people scored themselves good to very good on the topic of customer centricity. Everyone we met was truly convinced that they understood what customers wanted and that they acted accordingly. They also all knew the corporate mission statement placing the customer at the heart of every decision.
As the company's customers painted a rather different picture, we dug deeper and a more nuanced view emerged. Those we interviewed considered themselves to be customer-focused, but their bosses, well ... that was a different matter. In spite of the customer rhetoric in PowerPoint presentations, their real priorities became clear every time quarterly numbers were due.
Hit the targets, was the mantra. No matter what the commercial consequences might be. Burning the occasional customer was acceptable collateral damage, as long as it meant bonuses were safe.
In other words: everyone talked about customers, but the business, the leaders and the CEO weren't walking the talk. The root cause for this was that they didn't see the financial value of customer-centricity, but from their people's perspective, they were all words and no action.
If you want your business to become customer-centric, it's important that as a leader, you avoid this trap.
You need to convince your colleagues of formulating a set of clearly observable leadership behaviours to which each of them is willing to be held accountable. Only if people see that their leaders are living the customer values the organisation puts forward, they will be willing to live these values themselves.
To provide a more tangible illustration of this, I have listed eight behaviours which I have heard being formulated by senior teams embarking on a journey towards customer-centricity.
For each, every executive typically commits to:
I'm not saying that you should adopt all of the above (though it might be an idea :-).
I am saying that by living a set of clearly observable customer-centric behaviours you can help your colleagues distinguish whether you are a talker or a walker.
So which one will you be?
About this blog
Whenever inspiration strikes, I use this space to share my thoughts on customer experience management, storytelling or what ever else crosses my mind.