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
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
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
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
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.