To Be Customer Centric, You Need Teamwork

Think of running a company as a relay race. As one runner finishes up his or her portion of the race, they pass the baton on to the next runner. It sounds simple enough, but what if the runners do not communicate correctly, work together, or help each other along? They will not have a smooth hand-off, wasting precious seconds that could lose them the race. Worse still, they might drop the baton and be disqualified from the race entirely.

It is the same when implementing a customer-centricity strategy. If an organization fails to integrate initiatives into a holistic program, it is then that they "drop the baton."

The Race to Success

A recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found a large disconnect between intention and commitment, indicating that most organizations lack fundamental strategies for driving the strategy from the boardroom to the cubicle. Without a secure foundation, customer-centricity strategies can't take hold. But why is this? What can be done to ensure that these customer-centricity plans stick?

For starters, it is necessary to take a look at the big picture: the organization as a whole. It is imperative that all of the pieces of the puzzle are working together for the same cause and toward the same goal. To do this, customer-centricity strategies ought to be integrated into a holistic program. Employees and executives should work in tandem and synchronize their movements, just as the team running a relay race. Each team member must anticipate what the other team members will do. They must also understand that if one member falters, the whole team struggles.

An Integrated Approach to Customer-Centricity

A lack of C-suite leadership is a sign that customer-centricity efforts are not a top concern, and therefore, employees will not take such initiatives seriously. It is up to the executives to provide employees with the support they need to make it happen. They need to bolster confidence among employees and help themunderstand their roles as well as how those roles factor into the company's overall customer-centricity approach. Understanding their value will inspire in employees an intrinsic desire to deliver excellence.

Employees also need to be assured that they will receive the appropriate education, empowerment, and clearly communicated timelines and metrics in order to be successful. Many customer-centricity strategies fail during execution because they were designed for the boardroom, not for the customer-facing employee. Furthermore, it is the obligation of the executives to follow through on providing these things to their employees.

Help Me Help You

But how would a company know what their employees need to execute a successful customer-centricity strategy? It's simple: Ask them! Instead of focusing staff meetings merely on functional logistics, managers can take time to listen to their employees. What are the values of their work? How do they connect emotionally to their work and their customers? What would further engage them to the point that they make the choice to smile sincerely?

By listening to employees, and gaining an understanding of what engages them and impacts their work performance, companies can align their strategies from bottom to top, thus allowing them to set higher goals, individualize and humanize interactions, and provide authenticity throughout the whole experience. These discussions can provide insight into what gaps exist and how to go about closing those gaps. It will allow the company to place processes in their rightful places, provide necessary training, and, in effect, accomplish a smooth and successful baton pass.

When your employees are happy and engaged, it is reflected in their interactions with your customers, leading to better customer experiences.

Delighting Your Customers: The Greatest Prize

Ultimately, companies can meet the expectations set by their vision of customer centricity by dedicating team members and budget to accomplishing their goal. Because employees are such a large factor in this equation, it is important to listen to them, understand them, and prepare them with essential coaching and training. The end result will be satisfied, delighted customers who are overjoyed to have a company on their side, one that is attentive to their every need and glad to be. In other words, victory will be yours.

Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group, a customer experience transformation firm, and the author of six books. Follow him @LiorStrativity on Twitter.

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