It isn’t uncommon in the workplace to hear people getting a kick out of their customers. Whether it be a grocery store clerk snickering about the amount of ice cream a customer bought, a designer who thinks their customer’s font preference is stupid or an architect who thinks his customer lacks vision, the premise is the same. These are characteristics of unsuccessful people and most importantly, a purpose-starved organization.
Customers are the reason businesses and organizations exists; we exist to serve them. It is they who have the vision to hire, pay for and invest in their needs and ideas. They should be the nucleus of the organization. And while this post is a matter of business, the same applies to any environment, be it non-profit or public. A successful organization must design itself completely around the customer. This not only guarantees return business, but makes you leaner and more focused with your resources.
I had the pleasure of spending time with fellow entrepreneurs at the Tuck School of Business last week, a fantastic place with exceptional faculty. Customer-focus was an essential element of our discussions. So… how do you become customer-centric?
Step 1 Understand Needs, Eliminate perceptions
Have you talked to your customers lately? Do you know what they say about you to their friends and colleagues? The answers is often no. While we think we talk to our customers daily in our act of servicing them, asking your customers questions about your product or service is a whole new conversation.
Satisfaction = Expectations – Perceptions
The only way to satisfy your customers, is to understand first what they want. It’s very possible that it’s not what you think…
Step 2 Ideate Responses, Create Solutions
Now that you know what your customers need and how they perceive you, the first step is to reflect. And not just you Mr./Ms. Executive, but your entire organization. The people who work with your customers on a day-to-day basis have a lot to gain from customer insights, and even more significantly, have a lot to offer in terms of solutions. Brainstorm with the team and come up with some potential ideas and processes to address concerns.
Step 3 Be Realistic and Try a Few Things Out
You can’t change over night. Identify some easy-to-execute improvements and try them out. Get a few key customers involved; let them know you’ve heard their feedback and have used it to improve. They will love you for it and it will allow you an opportunity to put your ideas into practice.
Step 4 Ask Why
Walmart starts and ends every meeting by repeating their company cheer. Japanese companies start off with exercise as they sing the company song. These tactics work! Everyone in the organization should not only know the mission but allow it to drive their efforts every day. Their connection to the mission will allow them to understand the purpose of both their work and the organization.
We at Blue Daring live for our customers, but we also need to make sure that our service is representing that. This summer we will be taking our own advice and reaching out to our customers so that we can use their input to improve.
At the end of the day, it’s not about us – it’s not about you. Its about those you serve and most importantly how you do it.