Tag Archives: marketing

4 simple practices to build a customer culture in your company

This is a great short video interview with Tony Hsieh of Zappos discussing how the concept of culture and customers come together. Also thanks to Robert Reiss, host of The CEO TV Show.

The intersection of customers and corporate culture

The culture of an organization dictates how it will view customers and how it will treat them.

If everyone is expected to understand who customers are and what they value, then people naturally start doing this. Culture is a form of social pressure, it is the way you are expected to behave in a group environment, hence it is a very powerful way for leaders to create an environment of success.

Customer culture specifically looks at how much attention is being placed on bring the customer viewpoint into all decision making. It is a proven way to drive better business results as it ensures the business is aligned with its market.

Here are some great customer culture building practices that you can begin today regardless of the role you play in your company:

1. Put Customers on the Agenda

A great habit that gets everyone thinking is to start every meeting with a customer insight. Share one piece of feedback you’ve collected, one idea you have heard directly from a customer. These insights and stories can come from anywhere in the company. It does not have to be a deep conversation – just a way to get in the habit of brining the customer viewpoint inside before getting on with the rest of the meeting’s agenda.

2. Building Customer Empathy

Have someone share their own recent customer experience. Was it a positive one? What made it positive? Why did it stand out in their mind? How does it affect the way they think about that company and would it influence whether that would continue doing business with them? What does it mean for your company?

This simple exercise is a great way to build customer empathy in the team. By thinking like a customer you can make changes that will drive increases in value.

Steve Jobs and his leadership team conducted a similar exercise and recognized how dissatisfied they all were with their mobile phones. In their experience, phone’s were difficult to navigate, complex and basically not user friendly. This created the drive and inspiration to develop the iPhone.

3. Encourage Leaders to Share Customer Stories

Create a regular opportunity for senior executives to report on what they learn from their own conversations and interactions with customers.

There maybe extra leg work to translate what they heard into a useable insight, but it will be well worth the effort.

4. A Top Successes/Frustrations Customer Conversations Report

Create an ongoing forum for people to share what customers are saying in the form of a communication piece to the whole company. It should be in story form but can include statistics on key customer metrics ie things that are important to customers that your company helps them achieve. For example LinkedIn tracks how many new connections it helped people create on its professional networking site each day.

It should also include the top frustrations customers have when doing business with you. This highlights to everyone the priorities in terms of maintaining and improving customer satisfaction levels.

We have lots of FREE tools, templates and elearning modules to help build your customer culture here

What other practices do you use to drive a great level of focus on customers?

Are Fortune 100 CEOs laggards on customer focus?

The slide show above provides some statistics on the low levels of CEO participation in social media. Given the nature and intense time pressure of these roles it is understandable, social media is a nice to have for these CEOs and is not really impacting their ability to be highly effective, think Steve Jobs and Tim Cook…..
However, social media as a channel is an incredible tool for engaging customers and partners in conversation, getting feedback, developing a new understanding about markets, creating value by providing new insights and knowledge and creating transparent, open lines of communication. I also believe that companies with effective social media activities are generally more customer focused although I have not seen any data.
On the other hand I believe many of these CEOs are laggards when it comes to driving real customer focus in their businesses and this is a missed opportunity.
Building a culture that includes the customer’s point of view into each decision ensures alignment and long term success.
“What’s good for the customer, is good for the business”
This statement should be a driving force for all CEOs to maintain alignment with their markets. Any other situation will not drive profitable growth over time (unless you are a monopoly!).
It is a simple operating philosophy but in our experience one that does not drive most CEOs agendas.
What is your experience?

Why culture is important to customer service – vonage example

Unfortunately I had to have our Vonage phone line canceled today. I was a big supporter of Vonage when they first launched, I felt they had a great value proposition – fixed price unlimited calling nationwide with low cost international calling and lots of cool online features to manage voice mails and call forwarding etc. I thought this was innovative new approach in a market dominated by monopoly style businesses.

But it seems at least for us they could not deliver on the basic need of a clear high quality call. So I asked our office manager to cancel our service.

What happened next was not an AOL type experience like below……

But it was unpleasant, the agents are obviously trained to try and retain you as a customer so they try and diagnose the problem and send you to customer support if its technical or offer a reduced rate. Meanwhile our office manager was getting frustrated just trying to get one of a thousand tasks done…

I think companies should really rethink this strategy, are there better ways to deal with exiting customers? Yes some can be saved but how do you treat the ones that just want to cancel?

Companies have two options:

1. Try as hard as possible to aggressively salvage the customer through different offers and risk leaving customers with a bad taste in their mouths

2. Just ask the customer permission to understand why they are canceling, if they are irritated just thank them for their business and process their request as fast as you can at least the customer does not feel like they were held hostage and if the customer divulges honestly why they are leaving the company has a chance to fix it.

These are really difficult areas of customer service to manage but ultimately the culture of the organization determines the tone that is set in all customer dealings. If the culture is one that supports a primary focus on delivering value for customers then when it is clearly not delivering it will take those opportunities as a chance to improve.

What do you think, does culture impact customer service?

Here are some great sources of information on building a customer service culture:

From: Customer Service Zone, Inc. Magazine and  Businessweek

SVAMA November Program on Social Media Public Relations


Last week Thursday evening the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association (SVAMA) held an event in conjunction with the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs (SVASE) on the topic of utilizing social media technologies (blogs, podcasts, RSS, and the like) successfully in an integrated public relations campaign.The moderator was Mike Manuel from Voce Communications and the author of the Media Guerrilla blog.Mark Coker from the Dovetail PR agency was a panelist, as were Brian Warren of OuterJoin and Jeff Rubenstein of Sony Playstation (USA).My sincere thanks to these gentlemen for their participation!The topics discussed ranged quite greatly and reflected the diverse nature of all the attendees. They covered, how does a tech-unsavvy person get into this (just get out there and start typing) to how do I justify online PR activities to reluctant decision makers who also happen to handle budgets (by integrating Web 2 technologies into a fully integrated comm strategy that includes time-proven media vehicles).The event was a great success with over 100 attendees from both organizations and the public at large. Adobe Systems hosted the event in their LEED Certified building. They offered a great conference room and a great spread of food and refreshments.In full disclosure, MarketCulture Strategies has a deep interest in the SVAMA as two of our team (including myself) are members of the board. I find my participation in the group to really help me stay on top of current marketing issues, which I think is extremely important here in Silicon Valley. Moreover it provides great networking opportunities. Over time I can see the organization being mentioned a lot on this blog.