Customer Experience. Customer Centricity. Customer Obsession.
These phrases have become central to the language of business in almost every industry.
They mean vigilant, unwavering attention to the customer to determine actions and improvements. For some, these words represent a true transformation of organization and culture. For others, they are empty catchphrases with little authentic change.
To align your business around customers ─ not products, processes, technology or competitors ─ is a fundamental shift in how you approach and measure almost everything. Behind this shift are people at all levels who envision, plan, design, lead and do the everyday work of a fast-moving organization.
To build a “customer-obsessed” culture we need people to think and act differently.
Quality work, attention to detail and speed to react to problems remain important. But it is not enough.
Customer centricity demands people who can think creatively, imagine broadly, and collaborate easily, outside traditionally defined jobs and expectations.
We need leaders who inspire innovation of experience as well as innovation of quality or productivity. We need employees who enjoy venturing beyond known problems and processes.
We need people who appreciate and are curious about the customer’s feelings and perspective. We need to unleash everyone to think creatively and take new action.
This is service. Service excellence is taking new action to create more value in the products, services and experiences we create for both external customers and internal partners. Service excellence is the engine that drives customer obsession.
The challenge is that we cannot simply declare ourselves to be customer-obsessed or customer-focused. We need to grow every person’s capacity for service excellence to make this happen.
Along with the usual knowledge and skills to perform work successfully, we must expand our people’s capabilities to foster a true culture of customer obsession. We need each person to grow in…
The Seven Capabilities of Customer Obsession:
1. Broaden awareness.
Not only do I see my work from my own perspective, I can see it from that of others as well. I am mindful of my effect on others, and I pay attention to the experience my customers and colleagues have when interacting with me. I am aware of how I contribute to the organization, as well as the impact of my actions.
2. Cultivate curiosity.
I’m not self-obsessed. I have a healthy interest in other people, as well as products, services, and processes I may not be familiar with. I take time to educate myself; I ask questions of myself and others to try to learn and understand. What do other people want, need, value and appreciate? Why are we doing things the way we are doing them? What would happen if we changed one of our processes or core values
3. Allow for empathy.
I try to understand the concerns and feelings of other people. I know that my own perspective isn’t the only one; if I don’t share the feelings of another, I seek to respect those feelings and to respond with genuine care. Empathy opens the door to compassion and kindness.
4. Encourage initiative.
I do not wait for opportunities to come to me. I proactively take actions to make offers, meet requests, solve problems and create new possibilities. I go out of my way to invite others to collaborate with me when needed. Whenever possible, I do more than is required to create more value.
5. Stretch flexibility.
I am adaptable. I use different styles of communication and behavior to create the most effective experience for everyone in each situation. I adjust my approach whenever possible to add more value to my interactions. This doesn’t mean I’m fake; it means I’m sensitive to my environment.
6. Bounce back.
I can easily recover from problems, complaints and mistakes. I see breakdowns as opportunities to build strength and increase loyalty, through the interaction of effective problem-solving. Whenever something goes wrong, I am excited for the chance to create something better.
7. Take personal responsibility.
Service excellence is my livelihood, my job, what I hang my hat on. Therefore, I take personal responsibility for my words and actions. I look back to see what I can learn from past experiences, and lean forward into the future, to create what will be.
While these capabilities may seem elusive to develop, my experience is that they are skills many people already have. They just need to be unleashed!
Given permission, recognition and a framework for dialogue and application, people are excited (often relieved) to contribute these capabilities to improve the experience of others.
And as digital options increasingly become part of delivering service solutions, these human skills become even more crucial for the diverse situations humans must support.
Are you developing your people and your team’s ability to be customer-obsessed? Do they have the tools to approach their products, services, systems, and relationships from the customer’s point of view? Are you unleashing their potential to grow these seven vital capabilities? Their successful future, and yours, depends on it.
To learn more about Unleashing Unbelievable!, including guidelines and tools for grow your teams’ capacity for service excellence, click here to know more about becoming an Uplifting Service Leader.
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