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