Tag Archives: fear of change;customer service;customer culture;telstra

You can’t handle the truth – why most leaders say they want their businesses to be customer-centric but aren’t willing to take the first step

Feel fear and do it anyway - text on napkin

Creating a new business that endures over a long time is hard. We all know the statistics; 80 % of companies fail within the first 2-3 years.

What separates the businesses that sustain from those that wither away? Customer obsession. These companies have found a problem worth solving, a need that must be filled, and customers willing to pay. It all sounds simple.

What happens when these businesses grow up?

Over time their success breeds complacency. They no longer have to fight to win every customer; customers come to them; life is good. Leaders become managers and get paid to manage things already in place. The focus becomes the numbers, and the tail begins to wag the dog.

In markets where growth is turbocharged, mistakes are brushed under the rug. “So we stuffed up for that customer. There will be another one to replace them….”

It all goes well until the music stops; the tide goes out, and companies are exposed. Suddenly new products or services start failing not because they are bad products or services but because customers have lost trust. Managers have not been paying attention to the real source of revenue and profits – loyal customers.

Things have changed, growth has stalled, reputations decline, and customers are walking away.

Time for some customer-centricity.

The time has come to take a hard look at the business, how we are operating, what needs to change. We need to shift to a more customer-centric way of doing business!

Where do we start? How do we make it happen?

Like any and every major accomplishment in human history, everything great begins with one step forward.

In this case, that step is to take a realistic view of exactly how customer-centric you are as a business. For many that small step maybe a step too far: they don’t want to know.

Feedback hurts – it can feel like a knife twisting, gauging a hole in our being. It instills fear, even panic in us. And yet it is the truth, the way we perceive things is the way they are no matter what stories we want to tell ourselves.

So why do leaders say they want their businesses to be customer-centric but are not willing to take the first step?

Fear.

Fear of failure.

Fear of exposure.

Fear that it will distract.

Fear that it cannot be sustained.

Fear that they cannot do anything to change.

So what is the antidote to all this fear?

Just do it.

A funny thing happens when you face your fears – you grow.

If you think its time to face your fears and improve your business find out more about our unique customer-centric culture assessment here

Why are companies grappling with basic customer service?

employee fear of change

Adam Bender from Computerworld Australia recently reported on an event hosted by IPscape exploring the challenges companies continue to have delivering customer service that meets expectations.

With exploding connectivity and consumer expectations for instant service one would think businesses would be forced to respond.  However fear and other factors have made progress slow.

“the vast majority of organizations are still grappling with the absolute basics” of customer service, including how to minimize how much time customers spend on hold or being routed through automated telephone systems.

IPscape CEO Simon Burke

“Fear of change” has held back many companies from enhancing customer service, Burke said. Even if a call center agent recognizes improvements, the agent may not tell upper management because of a perceived unwillingness to change, he said.

Telstra, the large Australian telco sees “a distinct shift away from thinking about technology as a way to cheapen the customer contact,” but rather as a way “to deepen the customer contact,” said Telstra group general manager of industry development, Rocky Scopelliti. He said there’s a diminishing distinction among the many channels customers use to contact businesses. “Organisations have arranged their channels as though there are different customers who are using different channels,” he said. “But it’s one customer [who is] engaging in different ways.” Customers expect companies to know the “context” of their engagement so they don’t have to “explain themselves at every step of the process,” he said.

What’s the real problem here? It’s cultural! First, there seems to be fear at lower levels of large organizations that upper management does not want to change its customer service practices. Why? Because, it is believed that the whole focus is on reducing the costs of customer service. Second, there does not appear to be a deep understanding of customer buying behavior and preferences.

This will continue until upper management address the need for a strong customer culture – a belief at all levels (led and demonstrated by senior executives) that what’s best for the customer is best for the business. This belief must then be translated into customer focused practices at all levels that create a deep understanding of customer perceived value and delivery of relevant service for customers.

When will this occur? When executives measure their organization’s level of customer-centricity and discover the direct links of a much stronger customer culture with outstanding business performance.

Do you measure your business’s level of customer-centricity? If you don’t, how can you expect to manage it for superior business results?