Customer centricity- often articulated, not so frequently practiced
In the current business climate where organisations in the private and public sectors are fighting to defend and grow their reputation and performance and therefore ensure their survival, it never ceases to amaze me that the voice of the customer is so often muted and indeed sometimes completely inaudible.
Many organisations profess a passion for customer excellence expressed in their vision statements which are proudly displayed in their annual reports, reception areas and in their values and yet don’t have a real customer focus in their day-to-day activities.
Some of the examples I have personally experienced in the last few weeks include:-
An internet business who failed to respond at all to an on-line inquiry which could have resulted in a customer transaction
A restaurant which failed to return a voice mail message left to make a booking
The tax office who pursued payment of tax, but failed to respond to a simple query over a period of weeks
A check-out operator in a major retailer who failed to live the expressed values of the organisation of being polite, helpful and offering assistance with the packing
My premise is that any organisation who fails to put the customer right at the forefront of everything that they do will ultimately wither and sometimes fail completely. Conversely, organisations who recruit, train and inspire team members throughout the organisation to demonstrate real passion, enthusiasm and commitment to their customers will build their sales, market share and profitability.
The Olympic Games were an outstanding example of real customer centricity which I personally experienced. The volunteer Gamesmakers were inspiring in their enthusiastic attitude and support for the visitors and really made a difference to the enjoyment of the Games for the visitors from all over the world.
In our consultancy work with leading organisations, we frequently find that liberating customer-focussed passion is one of the biggest opportunities for human performance improvement and can have a remarkable impact for a relatively small investment of time, effort and money.
The key to success is in the identification, agreement and delivery of customer values and the help, support and insistence that all team members live the values and help exceed customer expectations every single day. This can be reinforced by including appropriate performance measures in the business dashboard and in personal and team incentive plans and can be audited through appropriately designed customer audits. Harnessing and directing the energies of a team towards outstanding customer service which is continuously improving can be a real source of competitive advantage and has a major impact on the morale and motivation of the organisation.
Tim Vernon, Chairman sensei UKE,