Author Archives: Dr Linden Brown

Why Customer Experience fails in organizations!

Contemplating cx failure

Recently I asked a colleague, Sean Gallagher, President at Influence
Success, to review our book, The Customer Culture Imperative,
compared with other books that address the area of customer
experience.

He said”: “Many books on customer experience are useful and
interesting reads. And I found Professor Phil Klaus’ book (Measuring
Customer Experience) and Fred Reichheld’s book (The Ultimate
Question 2.0) very useful because they are based on real scientific
research.

What do Zappos, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Oasis, Disney, Nordstrom,
Apple, and Amazon have in common regarding how they run their
business? They all share best practice techniques in a variety of
areas that anyone can theoretically copy. Countless number of
companies have tried to copy these best practices and failed. Why?

All these companies are amazingly different. What is the common
thread used to drive superior customer experience and superior
profitability at these companies? Their cultures! And all their
cultures are different on the surface. Amazon is very different from
Zappos, even though Amazon owns Zappos.”

Sean said: “For my money, the most valuable (and readable) book on
customer experience is called The Customer Culture Imperative: A
Leader’s Guide to Driving Superior Performance. The authors studied
the academic research that uncovers the elements of culture that
enables a firm to create a strong customer-focused culture that
delivers both superior customer experience and superior
profitability. They use numerous real-life examples to illustrate the
elements of culture that make all the companies listed above different,
but the differences are rooted in the same soil.

Customer experience best practices are important but are bound
to fail unless rooted in the soil of an organization’s culture.

The Customer Culture Imperative is the best book I’ve found for insights
on transforming a culture that can deliver both superior customer
experience and superior profitability.”

Our vision at MarketCulture is to help leaders understand the importance of building a customer-obsessed culture by engaging of employees. Our assessment, the MRI, provides valuable feedback to help leaders act on what is vital to creating great customer experiences, which will lead to increased business performance.

Is your company customer obsessed? MarketCulture has a unique tool that can provide the strengths and weaknesses of your customer culture against 100’s of companies like Virgin, Apple, Google and Amazon. Ask us for free pilot today!

How do leaders become customer-centric?

roll_of_the_dice_chance

Source: OCEAN/CORBIS

To answer this question it can be helpful to start with the opposite question: why aren’t leaders Customer-Centric? In many cases, it appears to depend on chance!

There are many reasons leaders are driven away from being truly customer-centric:

  • the dominant profit and shareholder value focus in many organizations,
  • the siloed and internal focus in most large corporations,
  • the pressure on short-term results at the cost of customer relationships and customer value.

But these are not the most important reasons!

In our research of more than 65 senior leaders around the globe customer-centric leadership occurs by chance – an upbringing in a family that runs a small business, working for a boss who happens to be customer-centric, an experience in a business that is ruined by lack of attention to customers.

What is lacking in organizations and tertiary learning institutions is the systematic training and development of leadership with a specific customer-centric focus.

There are virtually no university courses around the globe dedicated to the teaching of customer-centric leadership. Most organizations do not have this as a focused L&D program for senior leadership, the extended leadership group or for prospective and aspiring leaders.

How can you expect leaders to have the new currency of customer-centric leadership required for success by the new world of disruption and customer-driven strategies if you leave it to chance?

There are simply too many organizational pressures working against it.

Don’t leave your organization’s fate up to chance!

There is an answer. Research reported in The Customer Culture Imperative tells you what is required. Learn more about our dedicated Learning and Development program for leaders at here.

Can you continue to charge customers after they are dead?

I_fee_dead_people_chris_taylor

Source: Chris Roy Taylor https://twitter.com/chrisroytaylor

Many company leaders don’t know the difference between front-line customer focus and real customer centricity (and some don’t seem to care). This leads to devastating results.

These days many companies collect a large amount of data from customers and use this to analyze to what extent they are customer-centric. This includes customer satisfaction data, customer advocacy metrics like net promoter scores and other customer feedback related to customer interactions with the company.

They fail to realize that these data averages are only a small part of the picture – and not the most important part.

Authentic customer centricity is a culture across all parts of a business that reflects a mindset that believes “what’s best for the customer is best for the business”. It also requires employee behaviors and company processes in every business unit, function, and level endeavor to meet the needs of their customers. Also to provide value for money and deliver a consistently great customer experience – before, during and after all customer interactions.

The current Royal Commission into banking practices in Australia has unearthed some very unsavory practices – charging fees to some customers for services they never received, continuing to charge fees on customer accounts after people have died – and continuing these practices over several years. It is also uncovering the “bad” advice for some clients by some financial planners – something already uncovered in previous investigations. This is clearly a failure of leadership either governed by self-interest or not really have the customers’ interests at heart.

Why is this persisting? It is because many leaders in this industry do not understand the difference between front-line customer focus and real customer centricity!

These same banking organizations have studied their own customer service scores and concluded they are customer-centric. They fail to realize that weaknesses in customer culture can be devastating. Even now at the early stages of this banking investigation, customer and community trust in banks is dramatically reduced and their share prices have dropped.

It is time leaders spend some time understanding this difference and taking action with all their employees to embed a true customer first culture in all parts of their businesses. If they don’t they will inevitably suffer the fate of the banks – more regulation, lost community trust, reduced profitability and customers lost to industry disruptors.

Find out how to do it in The Customer Culture Imperative.

Learn how to implement a methodology that measures and benchmarks your customer-first culture against the most customer-obsessed organizations across the globe.

Learn how to develop a customer culture roadmap and initiatives that will reduce your culture risk and create sustainable long-term customer trust and business performance.

What drives leaders to become customer-obsessed?

Mature Man Clutching Arm As Warning Of Heart Attack

I was speaking recently with Rashid Velemeev, CEO of Sindbad Travel, one of Russia’s biggest online travel booking agencies based in St Petersburg. We were discussing customer-centric leaders and he mentioned that he believed an important characteristic is that they feel internal pain.

They can’t accept the way things are and they must change it to relieve their pain. It may be an experience of very poor service or of a product that does not work properly or an experience with people in a company who just don’t care. It creates a burning desire to do something about it.

When we think about this we realize that many businesses are started today because the founder has had a very poor customer experience and feels compelled to fill the gap created in the marketplace. It becomes a passion to make things right and if implemented well becomes a very good business.

Are you a leader that feels pain because things are not done right in your business to consistently deliver customer satisfaction? Do you feel the pain personally with each customer complaint? If so you can relieve that pain by implementing some of the ideas in our book: The Customer Culture Imperative.

Failure of Culture: Australian Cricketers do the Unthinkable.

Cricket Bowler in Action

The game of cricket is central to Australia’s self-image – we believe we play the game hard but fair and always within the spirit of giving everyone a fair go, whether it be a sport, business or in our relationships with people. As a country, we don’t cheat but want to win fair and square.

When someone does something wrong, we say “it’s just not cricket”.

Universally recognized as the greatest cricketer (and one of the greatest sportsman anywhere) of all time, Australian Sir Donald Bradman, said: “When considering the stature of an athlete, I place great store on certain qualities to be essential in addition to skill. They are that a person conducts his or her life with dignity, with integrity, with courage and perhaps most of all modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, determination, and competitiveness”.

In March 2018 when the Australian cricket captain, vice-captain and a new player to the team were caught on camera and admitted to a preplanned act to illegally tamper with the cricket ball during a game to make it more difficult for the opposition batsmen to hit, it struck at the heart of what it means to play the game, but more fundamentally struck at the heart of who Australians think they are as a nation – “we are not cheaters”.

In the 2015 Deflategate controversy in America’s National Football League (NFL) it was alleged that Tom Brady, the famous New England Patriots quarterback, probably knew of the footballs being supplied for games by his team were deliberately deflated. This ended with Brady receiving a 4 game suspension and the Patriots receiving sanctions.

This is not new in cricket, football or in other sports – think cycling, think baseball, think Olympic athletes from a myriad of countries and sports. In some countries and sports, cheating is systematic and inherent in their culture.

But for Australian cricket, this was a tangible result of a failure of culture ending in an uproar from cricket fans and the public. Standards of the on-field behavior of Australian cricketers have been deteriorating for years with “sledging” (personal insults) of opposition cricketers becoming the norm. This type of mindset has lead to a “win at all costs” culture and ultimately to a belief that doing something illegal (so long as you can get away with it) is acceptable. Some reports suggest that this ugly behavior has flowed down through the grades of cricket even to schoolboy cricket.

Unlike the famous All Blacks, New Zealand’s world champion national rugby union team, Australian cricket – some players, coaching staff, administrators – has lost sight of who are its most important stakeholders – namely the fans and its custodian role of representing the pride of the Australian nation. In preplanning the ball tampering act no-one asked the question: “What would the fans think of this?” or “What would the average Australian think of us doing this?” More broadly – “what do the majority of Australians think of our on-field behavior?” There was no consideration of the legacy left by Sir Donald Bradman.

This been a breach of trust that will take time and sustained effort to regain. It has also resulted in commercial losses from withdrawn sponsorships and likely reduced revenue from broadcast rights.

This is a lesson to all of us in business. What are we there for? – only ourselves or some greater cause?

When you are in doubt over a decision you are taking, ask the question: “What would our customers think of us doing this?” or even more personally “What would my mother think of us doing this?”

But, there’s an even bigger question.

Do we have a corporate culture that encourages good behavior and automatically doing the right thing by our customers and our community?

While seemingly abstract, your company culture produces tangible results for your customers – good or bad.

Our vision at MarketCulture is to help leaders understand the importance of building a customer-obsessed culture by engaging employees (or cricketers!). Our assessment, the MRI, provides valuable feedback to help leaders act on what is vital to deliver great customer experiences, which will lead to increased business performance.

Is your company customer obsessed? MarketCulture has a unique tool that can provide the strengths and weaknesses of your customer culture against 100’s of companies like Virgin, Apple, Google, and Amazon. Mention this post for a free pilot of the MRI today!

Why being customer obsessed pays! Lessons from the CEO of massively successful startup Naked Wines

Luke_Jecks_naked_wines_ceo

Luke Jecks, the Former CEO of Naked Wines, founded and led an online wine business that operates in the US, the UK, and Australia. The company connects wine lovers with boutique wineries and uses a subscription model where “angels” – consumers who pay a monthly subscription to help fund the winery’s next vintage – are able to order their favorite wines and pay for them from their subscriptions. It is a customer-funded wine business.

I asked Luke how this came about.

He replied: “The most important thing in the wine industry is that the only way this online business could work would be if we could have consumers that were “sticky” to the business. If we could get loyalty in perpetuity we would not have to be a business that is constantly out there chasing new sales. Instead what we could do is invest in loyalty in the consumer and if we did that we would have a sustainable business.”

“So we needed a model that did not trap consumers but made them want to stay. So the questions we had to answer were: How do you reinvent the wine club and its benefits with a subscription that had no cancellation fees, had no minimum period of membership, you could walk away at any time, and any money you put into the subscription you got back?”

“We found that a segment of wine consumers need to see a choice, a benefit, a feeling of being in control and where they feel they can connect with the values of the business. We felt that to keep customers in the long term we needed to make them feel proud – because they mattered and were part of the key wine choices being made and understood their role in making the business a success and the winemakers successful. Also proud because they feel they are doing good through the stories behind the winemakers that can’t happen without them”.

I asked Luke how this relates to customer-centricity. He said: “To me, you must have an “attract” model and not a “trap” model. It is a model where the customer plays a vital part in the success. So it is important for us to measure the customer lifetime value – that is how long they stay with us and how much they spend. That is much more important than today’s transaction. We believe that if we can get loyalty, we will get sales. We tested this by sending “high engagement” emails to half our consumers and “buy” emails to the other half. It turned out that the “engagement” emails created loyalty and those consumers bought more. We asked our consumers to rate their happiness with us. We found that people who rated us 5 stars (90%-100%) had much bigger lifetime value. So we set about investing to get 90%+ ratings by putting more people in the business, paying our staff more, investing in career programs for our staff and empowering them to empower our customers.

I asked Luke what has been the result. He said:

“From a standing start 5 years ago Naked Wine now has more than 100,000 angels. But more important than this number is the high level of loyalty. This has created a growing, profitable and sustainable business.”

A truly customer obsessed business has loyal customers that buy from you because they want to – and stay with you because they see that you care and that they are important. It is a business, like Naked Wines, that invests in and empowers its people to fully engage with their customers to create great customer experiences. This translates into increasing customer lifetime value. Sustainable profit and growth follow.

Hear more from Luke in this previous post – “What is the kryptonite for disruptors?”

Learn more about creating this culture in our latest book, the Customer Culture Imperative.

Are you an obsessive member of the Secret Squirrel Club?

peter-cooke-CEO-video

“We are not members of the Secret Squirrel Club”, says Peter Cooke, President of Wright Medical International. This was in response to my question about the leader’s role in customer engagement. In a meeting last year Peter and I were talking about customer-centric leadership. He went on to say “ that in order to create alignment between leaders and our employees to do the right thing for customers we must trust them with all the information they need to create a great customer experience – don’t keep it a secret. This includes financial progress of the company and the latest innovative initiatives occurring in different parts of the world.”

Peter continues “To do this we need a depth of competence at the top with leaders that have a high willingness to collaborate. We continually communicate the 3 or 4 key themes – we call them the vital few – to all employees in the business and the leadership team stands behind these themes and cascades them throughout the company and infuses them at every level.

Customer Centric Leadership Traits - TRUST

I asked him why employees are so important and leaders must avoid falling into the trap of not sharing information and becoming a member of the ‘secret squirrel club’. Peter replies “Success in business comes about by making the customer feel special. It’s that human contact that hooks you in as a customer. That’s the essence of customer engagement. To me, people buy from people. That’s what makes a difference. That’s why we are working on strengthening our customer engagement and aligning a collaborative culture at Wright Medical International to do what’s best for the customer and show that we really care.”

When you think about it, even in this digital age, when customers have a problem they are comforted by a human voice – whether it be by phone, through a chat function on a website, or even better, a face-to-face interaction. The moments of magic for customers are ultimately created by people. This can only occur if everyone in the business is aligned with what customers need and how a great customer experience is delivered.

If it’s kept a secret – that is, information and experiences are not shared – your employees become dissatisfied and your customers and business suffer the consequences.

Learn more about why a customer-obsessed culture pays in our latest book, the Customer Culture Imperative.