Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
In today’s times, there has been a dramatic yet deliberate shift from companies being only product centric to companies becoming customer centric. Organisations realise that being product centric will not work always because then the company will last only as long as the product does. Hence, there has been a conscious transition towards keeping customers at the heart of the business. There is, probably, no other entity in the entire business cycle that is as important as the customer. The eminent entrepreneur Henry Ford had once said,
“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”
That the most successful companies in today’s times are the ones that are customer-obsessed only substantiates the fact that being customer focused is the cornerstone of a company’s success. Also, what is common to such companies is that their top management is extremely customer centric. I firmly believe that the inspiration comes from the top; a customer centric change must be spearheaded by the CEO. It is the duty of the CEO to formulate a customer centric strategy and to ensure that his employees are aligned with the vision. It is not surprising that the most customer focussed companies have the most customer obsessed leaders at the helm.
So what are the signs that the CEO of an organisation is truly customer centric?
Understands that customer experience cannot be replicated
A customer focused CEO understands that products take seconds to replicate and price, in the long run, is not a differentiator. He is cognizant of the fact that the one factor that separates his organisation from competitors is the experience it delivers. CEx is what differentiates his company from the others!
Hence, investing in customer experience is not a cost for him but a strategic investment. He looks at the customer experience as an investment in customers, and believes that every positive customer experience leads positive word of mouth marketing that is more powerful than the multi-million dollar ad-spend.
Understands the pulse of the customer
These leaders are quick to spot trends, changes and patterns in customer behaviour. They anticipate change and ensure that their organization is ready and prepared for such changes. These leaders also lead by example, motivating others to follow suit. They spend at least a day a month personally talking to customers to understand their needs and wants. Additionally, they also communicate to customers to keep them informed that the company is constantly innovating and listening to the customers, thus establishing the personal connect with the customers.
Provides a customer focused direction and purpose to the organisation
Such a CEO is, firstly, clear about the core values and ethics of the organization. He has measurable goals and a vision for the future. He creates a customer centric strategy that is all-encompassing and is inclusive of any exigencies and uncertainties. He then ensures that he communicates transparently with his team so that it is aligned with everybody’s action plan, ensuring that the team does not feel directionless. Hence, his job is not just to steer the ship, but also to be absolutely clear about where the team is headed.
Engages every employee to ensure they create happier customers
A customer centric CEO understands that happy, motivated, and satisfied employees lead to happy customers. Hence, he does what he can to ensure that his employees are engaged. This could mean sending emails to the entire workforce celebrating the successes, sharing stories of amazing customer experience that employees have provided or communicating strategic insights.
What else must a CEO do to ensure that his company is becoming more customer focused? Do let us know your feedback!