Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
How to become a customer centric leader?
In order to become customer centric, almost every business leader knows they need to fundamentally change how their organisation engages with customers. While such leaders have a customer-centric vision of what the organisation should look like and a logical plan for getting there, they are puzzled about how to fully engage the organisation to put the plan into action. Vision isn’t enough. True change comes when the vision is attached to emotions and customer centricity is ingrained in the culture of the organisation. Indeed, if people see that their leaders are living the customer values the organisation puts forward, they will be willing to live these values themselves. We would like to share three important steps that can help you become a customer centric leader:
1. Provide direction and purpose
The first step is to provide the right direction and a clear vision for customer centricity. Propelling the vision must be a strategy that outlines how this differentiated customer experience will be delivered. Not a strategy for strategy’s sake, but a strategy for customer’s sake. The strategy should be robust and must be broad enough to cover organisational change management and have the right metrics to measure success or failure in delivering enhanced customer experience.
Finally, communicate your direction as clearly and concretely as possible and include prioritised actions with measurable targets. Most importantly include all internal stakeholders in strategy formulation so everyone feels vested in it.
2. Make everyone understand that this is cultural, not just a project
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make when moving to a customer-centric vision is to assume that their job is done once the plans have been developed and cascaded. To sustain the momentum in long term, constant and visible leadership energy for customer centricity is required. The leader must be seen and heard, expressing a genuine sense of urgency, commitment, and passion. Without these, it’s difficult for organisations to embrace the call to action.
3. Commit to customer centric behaviour changes
A customer centric leader exhibits customer centric behaviours that motivates others to follow suite. Some key customer centric behaviours as highlighted by Alain Thys from Futurelab are:
- spend at least a day a month personally talking to customers to better understand their needs;
- ask what is in this for our customers? at every decision, so that their team always considers the customer’s voice;
- systematically include measurable customer objectives in performance reviews, starting with their own;
- enable and encourage their staff to engage with customers by giving them time and resources;
- call meetings to review customer feedback in their team at least once a month and invite other departments to these reviews;
- set the example in going online at least once a month to seek out customer comments and make a positive (direct or indirect) contribution to their conversations;
- seek to include customer lifetime value as a metric in all financial and investment decisions;
- make a formalised, quarterly effort to seek new ways of focusing on their customers.
We would like to hear more on what has proven helpful to others. Please leave your suggestions and comments below.