One of the perks of our job is that we are privy to the inner workings of many a successful organization – ranging from the established market leaders to the upcoming startups. In conversations with leaders across organizations, a common theme we hear about is the need for their teams to be more customer centric. Here are 4 tips for leaders to drive home this message strongly across your organization, which we have picked up from our numerous interactions with leaders who make customer centricity a key pillar of their team strategy. We have put them together as an easy to remember acronym, G.E.A.R.
- Goals –
It is ironic that many organizations that harp on customer centricity being a value for them do not include it in the performance evaluation criteria of their teams. We see the following scenario play out at many annual meets, where a well-meaning leader would speak passionately about the need for customer centricity and later on, the other functional leaders would share their goals and action plans for the coming year (most of which have nothing to do with customer centricity!). A good starting point for leaders would be to include customer centric metrics in team performance.
Source: FlickrMany E-Commerce companies track with fanatic detail the time it takes for them to ship an order once it has been received in their system. However, sometimes, the actual delivery time to customer (a much more customer centric parameter) is often not given as much importance. So, take a long, hard look at your team goals and ask yourself – “How do I make these goals more external facing and related to the customer experience?”
- Empower –
Source: douglipp.comOn an early morning flight recently on business, I had pre-booked breakfast. My seat was next to a young mom with a baby. The baby was wide awake and kept pulling my book towards her as soon as I started reading. I gave up trying to read and we had a friendly game of peek a boo going with the book when the stewardess served us breakfast. I was famished and opened up my meal of bagel and eggs, buttered the bagel and boom! The baby chose that moment to give me a friendly whack on the hand. The bagel went flying into the aisle (right in front of the stewardess who had a ring side seat to the whole incident). I laughed and looked at the stewardess wondering how she should respond. She panicked, said hurriedly that she will come back post the service. I assumed she would get me a replacement from the way she said it. After waiting some time, I finished the rest of my meal. Later on, the stewardess came by to say that she couldn’t give me a bagel because it was part of a meal packet and they couldn’t sell the full meal without the bagel. I left the flight thinking that they missed a trick in not giving me a Wow! by offering a replacement quickly. One of the critical steps in making your team more customer centric is to empower them to take calls to resolve customer issues. Disney, one of the pioneers of customer centric experiences, has a policy called Popcorn Empowerment. Anyone in the team is empowered to replace popcorn for a child who has accidentally spilt his. Do think about what is the equivalent for your team.
- Action Orientation –
Source: FlickrSpeedy action is key in resolving customer challenges. Too many firms make the customer go through arduous processes before some action is taken to resolve the issue.One of the new age companies that seems to have taken the lessons of swift action to heart is Uber. If you have ever filed a request for a refund for an Uber ride that wasn’t perfect, you would know what I mean. No elaborate processes, they give the refund first and then find out about the issues in detail later. I know many customers who are regular Uber users who state speedy issue resolution as of one of their reasons for preferring Uber as a vendor.
- Recognition –
If you are a leader trying to drive customer centricity in your team, always be on the lookout for opportunities to reward team members who have done something extraordinary to deliver a Wow! experience for a customer.
Source: zapposinsightsOrganizations like Zappos and Ritz Carlton make this the centerpiece of their overall strategy. As a business leader, you would also have opportunities when you interact with customers and get a chance to demonstrate the importance of customer centricity. Leaders need to use those opportunities to model the way for their teams.
How has your leadership journey been on the road of customer centricity? We hope the G.E.A.R. model helps you in the road ahead. Do join in the conversation!