The Core of Customer Centricity: You Can't Transform Your Company without Your Employees' Help

Article excerpt

BEING IN the customer experience field, among the conspicuous privileges I enjoy are the frequent messages I receive from friends and family telling me "Go after that airline" or "This company should hire you." Everyone has a personal story in which a vendor did wrong by him or her. Oftentimes I know the companies and even the people in charge of their customer experience programs. It is not that those companies don't try. So if they're trying, where do they fail? Why do these stories continue?

Some CX professionals write off these stories as fringe occurrences. They roll their eyes and say, "Something bad will always happen to someone. It is not our norm. It happens." Thank you for the reassurance. But for the customers who have these stories, these are their bad experiences, and what are you going to do about that? These customers, at this moment, don't care about your statistics.

In my opinion, the problem is rooted much deeper in the customer experience programs.

While investments in technology, customer feedback, and experiential marketing programs are skyrocketing, there is one component in the formula for success that is being ignored or underfunded. That component is people. Executives are not allocating enough time to transform their people's thinking. For decades, companies operated as product-centric organizations with processes and procedures to reinforce this mindset and strategic direction. And then the CEO issues a memo that reads "From now on we are all customer-centric" and expects that the organization will align itself naturally. Good luck with that. You can't reverse decades of product centricity with a memo. At best, employees will be cynical and dismiss the memo as the program du jour with the attitude of "This, too, will pass. Just wait for the end of the quarter."

Companies that are sincere about customer centricity and seek a strategic advantage, and not just a tactical move, should address this root cause. Stop focusing on tools like surveys and technology and address the core questions first. Are your people ready to delight? After all, it is people who design Web sites, sell to customers, answer the phone, issue invoices, negotiate legal documents, ensure shipment, and manufacture products. …