90% of your employees want to be customer-centric. So why is your company not customer-centric?
During keynotes and workshops about customer centricity, this topic always pops up. Many managers agree with the benefits of customer centricity and dream about becoming the number 1 customer centric company in their industry or even worldwide. Great. I love that level of ambition. They invigorate the room and take brainstorming sessions to the next level.
And then someone drops the bomb: “If we’re going to be the most customer-centric company, we will need the best employees to make it a reality. Will our team be capable of achieving this ambition?”
If you ever hear this question just bounce it right back to the person who asked the question in the first place. Why? Because I truly believe that the vast majority of people want to be customer-centric. It is fun to be customer-centric, plain and simple. People love the positive energy that is generated by helping others. Everyone has their own style, true, but in the end helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. And “others” obviously also includes customers. At least 90% of the people love that positive energy; perhaps even as much as 99%.
If people love to help, why is your company not customer-centric?
People love to help clients, but they don’t do it. Why? Because of the context they are working in. If you create a context of customer centricity, most of your employees will do a good job in this context. Of course you can train them to optimize the style and processes, but the DNA of helping other will be in place. If you have a context where other elements of the business are more important than customers, people will focus on those other priorities.
A key factor in creating the right context is your communication and your evaluation strategy. If you tell people to be customer-centric but you give them negative feedback every time they come up with an interesting idea to help a client (e.g. ‘don’t you realize how expensive that is??’), then you are creating the wrong context. And the evaluation system is crucial as well. Check out my video on this topic to understand what I mean:
My boss told me, sir
In closing, let me just share a brief personal anecdote. I was waiting in line at a gas station. There were two lines of three people each. When it was my turn, the gas station employee put a sign in front of my face that said ‘please go to the next cash register, this line is closed’. I was really surprised. I asked the guy why he did that. His answer was honest:’Sir, it is 7.50am and my boss told me I have to stock the cigarettes before 8am.” I guess the boss of that gas station also believes that happy clients are important, but he is creating the wrong context. The employee at the gas station was embarrassed because of the situation his boss’s orders had created. It’s not his fault, it’s the fault of management.
The key priority of the leadership team should be creating a context of customer centricity, because both your customers and your employees love it .