Category Archives: leadership

Customer focused leaders are willing to take short term pain for long term gain

Customer Focused Leadership

Becoming a truly customer focused organization takes effort. Remember:

“Nothing worth doing comes easily”

There are substantial pay-offs to aligning your business with your customers. With the Market Responsiveness Index we have proven that customer focused businesses excel in every financial measure important from sales revenue and profit growth and overall profitability.

Unfortunately a key hurdle for many leaders comes when faced with the decision to sacrifice a short term profit in the hope of a longer term pay-off.

What do I mean by this?

There are three investments leaders must make in shifting the culture:

1. The investment of time, energy and thought to what it means to be customer focused. To paint a vision that people buy into and build a strategy to achieve that vision, just like any other business endeavor.

2. A financial investment in understanding customers in unique ways that will allow the company to compete more effectively in the future. There may also be decisions designed to build stronger loyalty that may cost the company in the short run but result in customers becoming long term advocates.

3. An investment in doing things differently. For companies to become customer focused, individuals need to become customer focused and this often requires developing new skills and a new mindset.

These investments take courage, strong leadership and ultimately are only undertaken by leaders that really care about having a sustained impact on their organizations.

Is your leadership committed to aligning the business with its customers?

6 questions on customer focus every leader must answer

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There has always been a lot of talk from business leaders about being customer driven, customer focused, customer centered in their business activities but what does that really mean?

Here are some key questions and answers to help leaders wanted to improve their organization’s level of customer focus:

1. Why be customer focused?

a. It pays – countless studies tell us businesses with high levels of customer focus sustain a growth path and are much more profitable

b. It’s more satisfying – a pat on the back from a customer makes the hard work all worthwhile

2. How does a customer focused business and team think?

a. It has a shared belief that “what’s best for the customer is best for the business”.

b. The customer is at the heart of all decisions – it is enacted by saying “How will this decision affect the customer; how will it benefit the customer?”

3. What do customer-focused people and teams do?

a. They get feedback from end customers and act on it

b. They get feedback from service provider partners and act on it

c. They gain insights on what bugs customers

d. They understand what will create real added value for intermediate and end customers

e. They realize that it’s the customer’s perception of what is valuable that counts, not their own view of what’s valuable

f. The biggest challenge is for us to gain a customer’s perception of what is really valuable

4. How can we measure how customer-focused we are?

a. Measure what people do in the business that affects the value delivered to customers – adding customer perceived value is a positive; doing non-value work is a negative

b. This comes down to how we behave – in relation to customers and competitors; how we collaborate with each other and our partners

5. What leads to loyal customers spending more and not considering the competition?

a. Personal relationships that create advocates

b. Consistent high value service delivery

c. Continually interacting with customers, listening for feedback, asking, customers how we are doing

d. There is great satisfaction in understanding a customer’s real need and helping them satisfy it

6. Who creates value for customers?

a. Everyone – if you are not creating value for customers, you are draining the business of its potential and future

b. The user experience is affected by everything the business delivers or does not deliver

c. Customers don’t care about your processes, they want a solution to their real problem

d. We should all be focused on solving the end user’s business problem/needs

Measuring your company’s Market-Driven Culture: There’s an app for that!

MarketCulture App

The MRI Circumplex - shows a company's customer culture

With all the talk these days about customer experience and increasing customer focus etc… it always amazes me that there is no internal measure of customer focus.

The only way for businesses to thrive in the turbulence and increasing complexity of today’s marketplace is to have deep ongoing customer insight.

What gets measures gets done and without good metrics there is no way to track progress or really understand what success will look like.

This was the major driving force behind the creation of the Market Responsiveness Index (MRI).

If you are a leader that really wants to drive customer focused change in your organization there is no other leadership tool available!

Customer Focused Executives Lead by Example

Telstra Executives spend a day in the call center

It was great to see the leadership of one our largest clients take action recently by getting some hands-on front line experience with customers in their call center.

There is no better way to demonstrate real commitment to building a customer focused organization than rolling up the sleeves and getting your hands dirty. All of the customer centric benchmark organizations we have worked with have very hands-on executives. It’s really about walking the talk.

Congratulations David and John I hope this becomes part of the new Telstra way.

You can hear more from John Stanhope, Telstra’s CFO on our new easyLearn site that has lots of tools and templates for creating customer focused behavior in large organizations.

How to be a “game changer” in your business

We just recently released a new case study on the CMO of Franke, Charles F Lawarence. It tells the story of the impact a “Market Responsiveness Index” survey can have on your company and career.

Charles described the experience best himself:

“This MRI tool was a game changer for Franke and me personally.”

The tool allowed Charles to quickly gain insight into the organization he was leading. It highlighted areas of organizational  strength and weakness as it relates to customers and alignment around the Franke brand and customer experience.

More importantly, it provided a rallying point for change and action planning.

You can download and read more about Charles and the Franke story here.

Jeff Bezos on what we call marketculture, zappos and amazon’s early days

I came across a really great video produced by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon today.

In it he shares some cool stories about Amazon’s early days, a short list of what he knows about business and why he loves Zappos.

What is really interesting from our point of view is his comments on what he knows about business. He mentions a few of the critical components of what we call “MarketCulture” – an obsession with customers, understanding them, listening to them and inventing for them. Take a look:

Jeff if you are listening, we would love to run Amazon through our “Market Responsiveness Index”!

87% of CEOs are not creating adequate value

My business partners, (Sean and Linden) and I recently completed writing a new white paper with the title “The Truth about Profit Trends: What CEOs need to Know and Do” , to date it has been garnering a lot of interest.

It outlines some worrying trends related to company’s return on assets over the past 40 years and identifies some of the reasons behind these.

One of the key findings was that 87% of CEOs are simply not creating enough value. Given the CEO’s role is to drive the organization towards its vision and enable it to fulfill its purpose by creating value for its customers this is a worrying trend. What is stopping CEO’s from creating value?

The short answer is company culture, many firms have lost competitiveness due to an internally focused culture that kills innovation and eats strategy for breakfast. Without addressing culture CEO’s cannot be successful in creating the positive change necessary to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace.

You can access our new whitepaper from our new resources page here.