There is no substitute for leadership. If executives won’t care about the customers of a company, no one will. And this includes also the self-fallacy of already being customer-centric, since only very few companies really are. So, what are the five key things every executive should do to build customer experiences of a company?
Be an Undercover Boss
As part of my doctorate thesis, I found that executive support is the key success factor leading to remarkable results. However, support alone is not enough, also understanding is needed. You can’t fully support something you don’t understand, can you? So, as leaders, we need to acquire well enough understanding of customer experiences we are producing as a company. Basically this means that we need to put ourselves into customers shows and have a walk. Have you ever seen an episode of Undercover Boss? If not, then I highly recommend it for any executive. If you have seen it, then you know what I mean! You need to observe the reality without your employees softening the blow. Speak to your clients, visit them, make field trips, have independent mystery shoppers to report for you. Do what it takes to really understand the customer reality of dealing with your business.
Second thing to do, related to previous is to have proper metrics in place. And I don’t mean those 100 question, boring customer satisfaction surveys. I mean relevant snapshots of how customers perceive your company. And not only customers, but also employees and your business. In other words, there has to be in place highly effective Voice of Customers, Employees and Business programmes that are linked together. The insight you receive has to be presented through engaging, personal dashboards that will help to guide decision making with data.
Thirdly, the whole company has to perform as one, across all borders, departments, business units and such. The clients deal with one company or brand, not with silos underneath it. Make sure the customers are not falling into cracks between different areas of your business. To make it happen, people need shared goals, metrics, KPIs and leadership to be unified.
Become a Cheerleader
Fourth, you need to become a cheerleader. Yes, you read it right. Your enthusiasm on customer value should be visible and tangible. You should be the loudest voice of customer experiences in your business. If that takes learning few dance moves, go for it! Keep the customers in the heart, minds and lips of every single person working for the company. It is that important!
Last, but not least are the values. Both your own and your company’s. Do you actually have ‘customer’ in your current values? If not, then you know what you need to do. If yes, how high up in importance are customers and the value you produce for them? These values should be communicated both formally and informally continuously. They should be visible in tour communications. Everyone should understand how they can live these values in their work in a practical way.
As a summary, there are five things every executive should do to build customer experiences. These are to support and understand the significance of customer experiences. Then executives should focus on getting the right metrics in place. That is the kind of metrics that actually help the organisation to understand how to perform better and how to take tangible actions to improve. Third thing to ensure is cross-border co-operation though out the organisation. Serve the clients without borders! Fourthly, executives need to put their dancing shoes on and become the cheerleaders of customer centricity. They need to talk about it where ever and whenever they can. Customers need to be the top of mind issue for any organisation with business goals. And as part of that, the organisation has to have customers at the centre of their every day values and action.
So, let’s do a reality check. How are these things in your organisation? If you are not sure or you only have gut feeling, maybe you can do a mini survey amongst executives to see their attitudes? There are several online survey systems that won’t cost you anything, such as SurveyMonkey. Here are suggestions for some questions you could ask:
- On scale 0-10, how well do you understand the impact of customer experiences to our organisation’s bottom line?
- What metrics and insight are you currently lacking that prevents you from serving clients even better?
- On scale 0-10, how well is our organisation performing across business units to serve our clients?
- On scale 0-10, how top of mind matter customer experience is for you personally?
- On scale 0-10, how well values of our organisation are aligned to serve our clients in best possible way?
Of course you can come up with your own questions that are more suitable for your organisation. Just keep the number of questions under 10 to have higher response rate.
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