Re-orienting your business to your customers and markets
Real re-alignment to market, starting with the leadership team
How many of your customers come to your business from competitors and stay because of the customer experience (and no other reason)?
You know customers are the most important part of your business. Your mission statement refers to it, and you’re always telling your people not to lose sight of the customer. Moreover, you’ve invested in customer surveys and CRM systems, Net Promoter Scores or some other metric. So you know your customer experience is no worse than your competitors, and it’s probably not the defining part of your value proposition. But why couldn’t it be?
Why isn’t your customer experience a discernable competitive advantage?
Maybe your business can compete quite nicely, and sustainably, on product/service features or on price/yield alone. Or maybe you’ve already invested in the ‘right’ CRM systems, surveys, dashboards and fashionable metrics and have come to accept that you can only do so much with the ‘thought leadership’ confusion on offer from ‘solution providers’.
In our experience customer-orientation is a leadership issue, not a question of which systems, metrics or quality initiatives are chosen (or who provides them).
Those businesses that re-invent themselves around their customers all have such systems, but among competitors with similar initiatives, they know that it’s not these that determine their customer-orientation success.
Whether developing products with compelling value propositions, serving customers on the front line, designing user friendly Terms & Conditions, or developing processes and systems that ensure customers don’t have to tell you anything twice, your managers and staff will get it right if they are led to adopt a customer point of view in everything they do.
Your guidance may be required on relative priorities, but your people will implement the chosen approaches and more naturally work to ensure the detail of the customer experience is right.
Many methods exists to develop insight, advocacy and orientation towards customers (internal and external), from job rotation to ethnographic research.
Our expertise is in helping executives instil the structure, belief and values that make sure managers adopt appropriate methods and priorities to align the business to its markets and customers, in order to secure competitive advantage.
We’re regularly called upon to advise on, and help create or implement:
a credible and compelling, competitive, customer experience vision
a strategic business case for appropriate investment in customer orientation
an appropriate mechanism to prioritise and manage customer orientation interventions and track their benefits
a framework for the application of appropriate expertise (customer insights, systems, ergonomics/human factors, metrics and dashboards)
a programme of staff mobilisation.
Market-influencing customer orientation comes from leadership, top-down
Certainly, customer issues are felt most strongly at the customer interfaces, but the factors that influence them run deep within a business, and across organisational boundaries. All the measures you take to address loyalty and customer experiences are implemented by people who will only do so as well as they do everything else in their jobs.
Small details matter, but often the return on investment for making significant changes can only be justified in aggregate, so inertia from the people responsible for implementing them is often inevitable.
That’s why your success in leading customer-orientation is more dependent on your leadership than any specific ‘solutions’ you choose.
To make a significant market difference, you have to create and value integrity in customer-orientation, which often starts with your orientation to internal customers. You and all your people—not just those at the customer interface—have to really do what you say you’re going to do when it comes to dealing with customers.
Equipped with genuine customer advocacy from beliefs and values as lived (not merely espoused), and with genuine insight about the competitive and economic value of customers, you can develop an almost innate appreciation among your people of what doing the right thing by your customers means.