Becky Carroll presented to a small group of Customer Experience executives in San Diego last week; her presentation focused on creating loyalty through a customer-centric culture. She dives deeper into these three items in her book, The Hidden Power of Your Customers, but I’ll highlight them here. (Go read the book, too!)
In order to ensure that customers are at the center of all actions and decisions, a part of your company’s DNA, you must have a customer-centric culture, measure what matters, and put employees first.
The culture is the key to your success. The key to having a customer-centric culture is a leader, i.e., CEO, who is passionate about the customer and is customer-focused, too. The culture sets the tone and reinforces the values.
“Customer service is not a department; it is a company-wide focus.”
One of the stories Becky shared was about a Marriott guest who realized the morning after he checked in that he had actually packed his wife’s pants! When he went to the front desk to ask if there was a spare pair in their Lost-n-Found or a store nearby where he could buy a pair of pants (in a very small window of time), he learned that there was neither; however, as it turns out, the employee at the front desk happened to wear the same size pants, and he literally gave the guest the clothes off his back(side). This isn’t a one-off occurrence of great customer service or doing a little something extra; there are many other stories about the great service guests receive at Marriotts around the world.
Another example she gave was from Nordstrom. They’re so well known for their great customer service. But did you know that they actually spell out their customer focus in their job descriptions? These qualities/responsibilities were outlined for sales, stock, and customer service positions at Nordstrom Rack. (Yes, even their off-price stores deliver great service!)
- Sales people provide great service through positive interactions and product knowledge with each and every customer.
- Customer Service Representatives meet our customers´expectations with professional, efficient service at the point of sale.
- Stock people support our customers by keeping our fixtures full with merchandise that is accurately ticketed.
These responsibilities clearly define how each position impacts the customer!
A couple of other areas that Becky called out with regard to the customer-centric culture included:
- Company Values: create a clear set of values as a guiding light, make a commitment to live and breathe them. Zappos was an example given as a great company with clearly-defined values. 10 of them, to be exact.
- Hiring a Chief Customer Officer: He or she will be the ultimate authority on the company’s customers; drive the customer strategy across the organization, and use customer insights to acquire and retain the best customers.
- Stay Close to Customers: This includes talking to them and gathering feedback through VOC programs and social media listening. It also includes getting to know your employees. Undercover Boss was mentioned here.
- are naturally people-focused
- have a passionate spirit
- are empathetic
- think creatively to solve problems
- sharing customer information with employees
- going on customer visits
- creating customer advisory groups/councils
- listening in on support calls
- listening to social media conversations
- providing them with clear guidelines
- reiterating that they are an im
portant part of the culture
- reinforcing good decisions made
- learning from poor decisions
- recognizing outstanding service
- Initiate a customer feedback process
- Think through the customer experience
- Assemble a set of corporate values
- Care for every customer
- Measure what matters
- Continuously interact with employees
- Make customer service part of the DNA
Empower your employees, which Becky defines as training them to listen to customers needs or problems and allowing them to do whatever they need to do in order to make it right (without a manager’s input or approval) by:
Becky wrapped up the presentation with this advice from customer-focused leaders:
How well are you doing on each of those?