Find Me A Customer Focused Business

More unhappy customers in tough times. Where is the service?

I refuse to believe that times are tough out there when I’m receiving a greater number of customers’ complaints about businesses than I was when supposedly times were pretty good.

I have spent the last few days travelling around both Islands. You would have thought if times were tough I would have been having many more great customer experiences as organisations realise that if they don’t look after the customers they have got, they will have a real problem.

But no, sad to say, I can’t report one business that I interacted with that did anything that would encourage me to do business with them again or encourage anyone else to do so.

Just an iron that worked in my hotel would have been nice, or a smile from the young lady at the airport café would have improved my morning and just a little bit of assistance at the airport self check in machine would have helped greatly- (thank you to the fellow passenger who came to my assistance)

All just small things really, but that’s what a great customer experience is all about — lots of small things that add up to an organisation that focuses externally on you and me and not themselves.

Actually, I’m not surprised, as changing the focus of a business is a big job, especially when it’s in an area where most organisations think they are doing all right – being customer focused.

The reality is that most businesses are operationally focused, meaning the focus is more on the business than the customer. The result is the many ordinary experiences we have everyday, as customers.

I find most management teams understand the difference between an operational and a customer focus. They are normally fairly honest and accurate with their own organisation’s assessment, most rating their organisation on average somewhere between four and six out of 10.

Leadership has the greatest impact on any change. It’s not until everyone within the organisation is convinced that leaders are genuinely committed to change, that change actually starts to happen.

Lesson one – “Actions speak louder than words”. Staff will take much more notice of what you do rather than what you say. Being aware continually of this is the first step.

You have two groups of customers, internal and external. All too often, we concentrate on only one of these groups, your external customer. The frustrating thing is that focusing on only one group will not improve the experience you deliver.

In the customer experience world, your people are number one and your customers are number two. You will never deliver a consistently high quality customer experience unless your people are having the same.

Lesson two – Ensure you have the right people delivering your customer experience and that these people are backed up with all the resources and support you can muster. Then they will know you are serious.

Most organisations make the fatal mistake of only involving management in any development of a customer focus initiative.

Total involvement is the key to total buy in. Every person in your organisation plays a role in the eventual experience you deliver. The length of time this buy in takes is totally dependent on the degree of involvement.

Lesson Three – Commitment comes from involvement, speed of progress comes from involvement.

A clear vision and a strategy that will move the organisation toward that vision are missing from many organisations. We find that either organisations have a vision but nobody knows what it is or there is no vision so nobody has any idea where the organisation wants to be in the future. This results in a lack of inspiration and motivation from within and does nothing to improve the experience the organisation is delivering to its customers.

Lesson four – A clear, well-communicated vision could be the spark missing from your organisation.

Fewer than 1% of businesses have a defined customer experience. The result is inconsistency. That inconsistency comes from your people making up their own minds on what that experience will be.

Your people have to be all on the same page, because an inconsistent customer experience will never grow customer loyalty or increased word of mouth referrals.

Lesson Five – Defining your customer experience is the foundation that the experience will be built on.

Where is the creativity? The answer is right within your organisation. In fact, all that creativity comes to work and goes home every day. Why don’t more businesses capitalise on this incredibly valuable resource? Because they don’t have a system to do it.

Lesson Six – Encourage and capitalise on all the creativity that exists within your organisation.

Capitalising on the creativity within an organisation is a vital part of any customer experience strategy.

In our current economic climate, business leaders are starting to understand that today’s leadership styles must change, along with the focus on short-term strategies and short-term rewards.

The customer is now firmly in charge. Failure to recognise this will have serious repercussions.

Chris Bell is managing director of Customer Experiences; a company that specialises in helping businesses improve the way in which they interact with customers and clients. Click here to contact us.