Accumulating expertise in customer centricity. Leaders committed to more customer-oriented practices at a firm will do things like attending conferences and training sessions, benchmarking with customer-centric firms, and sharing best practices with other business units or affiliated companies. If I see leaders setting up and participating in customer-oriented orientation and training programs for employees, I know their commitment to the their company’s transformation is genuine.
Crossing boundaries to generate enterprise-wide results. Organizational silos are anathema when it comes to customer centricity, so leaders who are committed to more customer-centric practices will spend the time and effort necessary to break them down. But even when these barriers persist, committed leaders will do their best to ensure that each customer has an experience that is consistent across all products and channels. Leaders who are committed to a customer-centric transformation will make it their business to sponsor cross-departmental initiatives aimed at eliminating inconsistencies and sharing best practices.
Measuring success differently. Crossing boundaries can only be effective over the long term if new metrics and reward structures are also introduced, including things like customer satisfaction scores and NPS. The benefits of providing better customer service or generating higher customer satisfaction often don’t translate into sales and profit in the current financial period, so when a firm’s incentive compensation plans are based solely on financial performance, I know the firm’s leaders aren’t truly committed to customer centricity at all. They may consider it nice to have, but not essential. My own parent company, TeleTech, has been contracted by one of the large technology companies (which I’m not allowed to name) to help stimulate sales by supplementing this company’s own inbound and outbound contact center resources. But the primary metric for our success in this contract isn’t sales volume, it's customer satisfaction! This client’s leaders are authentically committed to customer-centricity.
Focusing on incremental progress and “quick wins.” A large part of change management involves accumulating small successes, celebrating them, and building gradual organizational momentum toward the change required. Our consultants know that to be successful a company’s leaders must not be so consumed with the ultimate destination that they can’t pay attention to fixing small problems, getting bite-sized projects off the ground, and piloting a variety of customer-centric initiatives in different areas, simultaneously. The competitive world changes too quickly to wait for perfect solutions. But over time, small efforts, limited-scope projects, quick wins and even “near misses” all add to the momentum, making more comprehensive approaches easier to attempt, justify, and implement, and building support for the direction of change within the rank-and-file.
Communicating and living by customer-centric values. Does your executive team “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk” of customer-centricity? A committed leader finds opportunities to discuss with staff members how the company should treat certain types of customers, perhaps focusing on particular lifestyles, transaction patterns, or just simple demographics. He or she will place greater emphasis on initiatives designed to improve the different customer experiences among a variety of different types of customers. And a leader committed to customer centricity will also be committed to transparency and trustability – ensuring that the organization’s official policy is always to act in the customer’s interest, even when it might not yield the same level of short-term profit.