Who’s the most important person at your organization? If you answered “the CEO,” think again. It’s the customer!
Without the customer, you’re out of business. Being mindful of that fact, just keeping it top of mind can go a long way toward achieving a customer-centric culture. If your sincere goal is to meet customers’ needs, you’re moving in the right direction.
But, of course, it takes more than that. Successful companies come and go, but the ones that tend to stay around are customer-centric to the core. Here are five attributes they share:
1) A sense of purpose and passion
There’s a link between organizations that instill a sense of purpose and their long-term success, according to research from Deloitte. Those that always aim to treat customers well, tend to succeed. It’s not about transactions, but about building relationships that exceed expectations…and being passionate about it.
2) Buy-in at all levels
While it’s laudable for management to aim for a customer-centric culture, it won’t happen without buy-in from all employees. Likewise, even if employees aim to meet customer needs, they need management support to consistently deliver great service. The most successful companies regularly rejuvenate, with team training and staff development that keep everyone on the customer-centric track.
3) Shared goals and rewards
Some people perform well under pressure and competition, others prefer collaboration, but most respond well to shared goals and rewards. It’s a happy medium between putting employees against each other for recognition and avoiding recognition altogether. In The Social Conquest of Earth, E.O. Wilson notes;
At the higher level of biological organization, groups compete with groups, favoring cooperative social traits among members of the same group. And when your teams reach a shared goal, it only makes sense to share the rewards!
4) Sincerity and trust
These attributes are at the heart of partnerships, contracts, relationships, and dealings between people and institutions, notes Michael Lowenstein of The Relational Capital Group.
Trust comes from deep within organizational rules and process execution, and when trust is strong and real, sincere care for customers follows easily.
5) Long-term commitment
It’s one thing to practice customer-centric behaviors and actions for one transaction. But you do want your customers to come back, right? To make sure this happens, all staff must be focused on the big picture of caring for customers – and retaining them – for the long haul. If you help Mr. Jones with his product needs today, but neglect him tomorrow, what have you achieved?
Perhaps Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, puts it best:
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
Guest Blogger: Beth Stetenfeld
Beth is an editor, writer, and small business communications consultant. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.