The art of leading a customer centric culture
In the 21st century designing and creating outstanding customer experiences is imperative if you want to distinguish yourself in the customers mind. The focus has shifted from product and price to truly placing the customer at the centre of your business. This shift is driving the customer centricity revolution globally.
According to Forrester’s Customer Experience index 200 (CEI 200) companies with a customer centric culture have a higher valuation as compared to their competitors. There is also a very powerful correlation between the customer experience and the levels of employee engagement in organisations.
Over the past ten years I have addressed audiences from diverse organisations on how to create and drive a customer centric culture and consulted with these brands on the important role of leadership to deliver upon and exceed customer expectations. In my experience leaders needs to focus on 4 key areas to drive internal employee engagement and commitment to create outstanding customer experiences.
The 4 focus areas are underpinned by an inspirational leadership style which is a key driver in creating employee engagement. In fact, employee engagement and culture are two of the most important challenges facing leaders in business today.
Leaders who focus on the following 4 areas and who are truly passionate about both culture and customer centricity will see tangible outcomes relatively quickly in their teams and levels of engagement:
Create a compelling vision statement around customer centricity.
The purpose of any company vision statement is to provide direction and alignment. Keep your vision statement short and to the point and ensure its memorable and repeatable at any moment in time. Your vision statement is the dream and the how your organisation will change or make the world a better place. When it comes to customer centricity your vision statement is created around the impact your organisation will have by focusing on what the customers want or need. These statements are aligned to what your customers care about and what your organisation stands for. Coca-Cola is an example of a customer centric company and despite the fact that their global market is extremely diverse they still manage to remain in the top spot in their competitive market. They have embraced customer and employee engagement as their long-term strategy. Their focus is centered on what the customer wants – to be happy. Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign hits the nail on the head with their #MakeItHappy campaign. Customers have loved the sentiment and company profits continue to grow.
Keep in mind that the vision of keeping customers happy and exceeding their expectations drives the culture and values of the brand.
The vision statement is your long-term strategy summarised in a simple message and its role is to drive inspiration and momentum over the long-haul.
Align your values to the vision.
Having a vision to be customer centric is one thing but the force that turns the vision statement into reality is the level of engagement amongst the organisation’s employees. It is no secret that only approximately 30% of an organisation’s employees are engaged so driving a customer centric culture is not an overnight miracle. The good news is that with clear communication, inspiration and engagement you can make the magic happen for your customers. In my experience its important for the organisation’s customer centric philosophy to be driven by clear and easy to understand core values that you as the leader and your employees will uphold constantly. These values should be become your organisation’s DNA and the true essence of your brand. As the leader you need to be the ultimate brand ambassador and that means living and leading the organisation’s values. Ensure that you align your recognition and rewards programme to the ultimate vision of the organisation and the values that drive the actualisation of that vision.
Communicate the Why!
To get the support and buy-in of your employees to drive a customer centric culture it is really important to communicate why it matters to put the customer at the heart of the organisation.
Merely having a vision statement plastered all over the office walls is simply not enough.
You have to become a passionate communicator of the impact customer centricity has on the retention of customers which then impacts on job security, organisational growth and sustainability. Make use of every employee touch-point to drive your message home. Align internal communications using posters, pictures, banners and newsletters to support the customer centricity drive and to reinforce the values and supporting behaviours.
Celebrate the wins and recognise your customer centric star employees
Customer feedback is imperative to ensure you are on track with your customer centric strategy and employees must have access to the feedback that’s collected. In fact customer feedback whether its good or bad can be used to innovate and drive change. As a leader you need to share challenges that exist to create outstanding customer experiences and encourage your employees to be creative to find solutions to problems. This creates a dynamic, innovative team spirit and places everyone on the same page as to what is expected from employees to create and drive the customer centric culture. Use positive customer feedback to recognise the right behaviours and shared values of employees and never underestimate the power of recognition to inspire and motivate your employees.
Recognition and constructive feedback are key components of an engaged corporate culture and employee satisfaction.
Empower your employees and give them the authority to make decisions that will reinforce your customer centricity strategy. This gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility and encourages them to take rational decisions when required. On that note, train and coach your employees on customer centricity. Captivate International provides on-site training, coaching and workshops on driving a customer centric culture. We align these interventions to the customer centricity strategy of our clients and have seen the impact it has on engagement, focus and creation of excellent customer experiences.
Now is the time for all organisations which want to grow and strengthen their customer relationships to move away from just talking about customer centricity to actually living it.
Leadership is the key driver of customer centricity and therein lies your opportunity to create experiences for your customers that truly distinguish your organisation from the competition. In the words of Dharmesh Shah, “The more advocates you have the fewer ads you have to buy.”
Grant Driver is the Founder of Captivate International, specialists in organisational culture and customer centricity. Grant is a global speaker and executive coach.