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Creating a Customer Mindset  

     Any successful business undertaking, or any undertaking, for that matter, starts and ends with people. The people of any business are by far the most important ingredients. In a time of downsizing and rightsizing, businesses mistakenly turn to technology as the answer.

 In a customer focused organization employees are the only ones who can make a strategy work. Managers, department heads, CEO’s, or owners, cannot create a good customer experience by themselves. It is the Customer Facing Employees (CFE’S) that have the responsibility of creating a positive experience for the customer. 

       The often-used adage that a good customer experience will be shared with one person but a bad experience will be shared with ten, is alive and well and accentuated with the growth the internet.

      Owners or top executives must set the direction and strategy of a company but they must be certain they connect with their managers and employees.  

 Management must invest in the development of CFE’s and all other workers, who will perform a supporting role in the customer strategy. Customer focused employees can become the competitive advantage of a business.     

 Management must come out of their corner office and roll up their collective sleeves to set the example for the organization.    

         A true customer focused organization allows upper management to get a much better feel for customer needs and expectations than they can get from a sales report. 

        Before you can have a customer-centered company, you must establish a customer-centered culture and mindset. This begins not only with CFE’s  (sales, customer service, and marketing) but all employees.

A Data flow diagram should be created to show how each department contributes to customer needs. Every job function must be related back to the customer either directly or indirectly. Many job functions support internal areas but are still important to customer needs and satisfaction. 

 In today’s uncertain economy, employees have to understand that without customers, there is no business and without satisfied customers, there will be no secure employment.

          All employees must be encouraged and empowered to go the extra mile for a customer to get a satisfactory solution. In some businesses, a client representative is assigned to a customer and empowered to resolve any customer problems or issues, even if it means crossing over usual responsibility areas if necessary. By not handing off a problem to another area, a full understanding of the customer experience can be acquired. This can prove to be a great help in redesigning functions.

           However, the corporate culture has to be open and the exchange of information encouraged and rewarded.

  Management must demand that all departments regardless of politics or bureaucracy, put customers first. Customer needs must supersede any power structures that have been in place.

 Studies have shown that as many as 60%     of all projects dealing with Customer relationship management (CRM) have failed. Two common reasons:

 

·       Front line employees, who actually interface with customers, were not involved in the design of the new CRM system. The result was that managers who made the critical decisions were out of touch with the needs of the business users in support of customers. This rendered the system useless thus leading to the loss of millions of dollars and over a year of effort.   

·       Management does not come out in full support of the customer-focused approach. Sure many pay it lip service but when they have to get involved to make it happen, they delegate the responsibility to a middle manager who does not have the influence to get things done. The truth is in many companies (big and small) upper managers would rather stay in their offices instead of getting closer to customers.