How to build a customer-centric culture

Customer-centric culture change is organisational change that puts the customer at the heart of everything you do. It unifies your organisation with a common cause and gives you a competitive edge. It’s about getting your people to look at your organisation from the outside in, ensuring what you do and the way you do it make sense for your customers. A customer-centric mindset is what makes the difference.

It takes committed leaders and for the whole organisation to get on board.  And change doesn’t need to be dramatic – it can involve reinforcing what you’re doing well and making the subtle strategic shifts that will reap the big rewards.

You can sum it up with 10 key ‘C’s:

1. Lead the CHANGE
Becoming customer-centric is a leadership issue. Step up, be an advocate for your customers and drive change. Make decisions, create policies, build processes, implement systems and reward behaviours that put the customer at the forefront of your business.

2. CLARITY to unite
Clarify your purpose and make the customer your ‘cause’. Create a clear and compelling customer-centric vision that people can believe in and get excited about.  Break down the silos and unite the organisation by focusing on the overall customer experience your brand promises.

3. CONTEXT for change
Explore the need to change and the consequences of not. Understanding ‘why’ will help you put change in context. Perhaps customer satisfaction has plummeted, there might be a new competitor, or maybe sales are slipping. This is the time to create some urgency – to look at the strategic reasons for change and what will happen if you don’t.

4. CONFIDENCE to be the difference
Mindset is key. Build the confidence to make each customer more successful. Confidence comes down to attitude and resilience. People need to feel that what they do matters and they have the power to make a difference. Recognise and get over resistance to change – challenge the thinking, build trust and encourage new behaviours.

5. COMPETENCE to create value
Deliver what customers value. Solve their problems and exceed expectations.
Develop your people so they get the basics right first time, every time. Boost the benefits and reduce the time, effort and emotion your customers need to invest to do business with you.

6. COMMUNICATE to engage
Involve, inform and inspire your people to embrace the change. Communicate in an engaging way that makes sense to the people you’re talking with. Be visible, listen and ask for input. Share customer stories that highlight progress. And most importantly, communicate honestly. Be upfront about the change – tell it like it is and actively encourage people to get with the program.

7. COACH for performance
Develop customer-centric mindsets and behaviours that lift performance. Bridge the competence gap that change creates and ensure people have the know-how, encouragement and support to do things differently. Invest in skills development, on the job coaching, and give positive and corrective feedback on the customer-centric behaviours you want to embed. Re-align what gets recognised and rewarded.

8. COMMIT and sustain
Embed new routines and ways of doing things that demonstrate commitment to customers. Show what success looks like, set high expectations and reward achievement. Create an environment where people have a chance to contribute and accomplish something meaningful for their customers – watch their commitment grow and the changes stick.

9. COLLABORATE to inspire
Break down the silos, work together and inspire others to improve. Collaboration and sharing ideas and stories is where real traction happens. It’s in the conversations and the passing on of what worked, for whom and why, that people see the results of a new way of thinking about customers and a new way of operating.

10. CONTINUOUSLY improve
Install customer metrics, monitor and measure to find a better way. Empower teams to set tangible targets and to work towards them, tracking their results. Mobilise your people with a sense of ownership – push for progress, celebrate accomplishments and continuously look for a better way.

Check out our website or contact me to find out more about how you can build a peak performance culture that puts the customer at the forefront of everything you do.



Posted: Tuesday 15 April 2014

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