Sam Walton once said, “There is one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
It is this premise that Chuck Wall personifies in his new book, Customer CEO: How to Profit from the Power of Your Customers. This is a well-written, easy-to-read book about the powers possessed by your customers – powers you may not have considered – and about how to become a successful, profitable business by harnessing those powers to transform the organization, the culture, and how it thinks about delivering the customer experience.
Chuck draws on his background as a marketer and an entrepreneur, alongwith feedback from, or interviews with, more than 100,000 customers of his various clients over the years to explain the powers and to make his point. The great thing about the companies Chuck uses as examples? They are not all “the usual suspects.” He shares details from 30+ companies, some that you may not have heard of or that you may not have thought about when you’ve searched for examples of who gets the customer experience right. That doesn’t lessen their impact and is, actually, quite refreshing.
There are nine customer powers that Chuck identifies through his research, and he explains each one using real-life examples. He then outlines how to harness each one to evolve your company into a customer-centric organization. I’ll briefly summarize the nine powers below, but before I do that, here’s a quick video about the book. See if you can identify any of the powers as you watch it.
I am the customer. I am always right. I am the reason you are in business. I pay your bills. I will share my experiences, good or bad, with everyone around me. I’ll even share them with you, but I expect
you to do something with it.
The Power of Value: What’s this worth to me?
Value means different things to different people. Each of us decides what something is worth or what its value is based on our needs at the time. That value can be determined by both internal (need) and external factors. One thing is for certain, though. Customers don’t want to pay too much or get ripped off.
The Power of Performance: Does it do what I need it to do?
This power revolves around design thinking. Better design – be it products, services, etc. – leads to better customer experiences.
The Power of the Heart: How does it make you feel?
Customers will make that emotional connection with companies and brands that understand them and take the time to really get to know them.
The Power of Simple: Why is this so difficult?
Offering too many variations, making things difficult to assemble or use, incorporating extra or unnecessary steps into a process. These are all examples of where simplification would be a customer delighter.
The Power of Yes: Why is the answer always No?
The golden rule. Treat customers the way that you want to be treated. Get it right. Go the extra mile. Do the little unexpected things. Empower employees to always do what’s right for the customer. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Never allow a person to tell you ‘No’ who doesn’t have the power to say ‘Yes.’“
The Power of Platform: What about my ideas?
This power is all about how social and how vocal we’ve all become. We are share happy. Good or bad. Ideas, suggestions, complaints. It’s all a gift from us to the companies we interact with. Our ability to share has been amplified by the platform. Companies must adapt and learn to communicate with, and respond to, customers wherever they are.
The Power of Rebellion: How do I break the rules? There are too many bad rules and policies. What’s the point of some of them? There are best practices, but who are they best for? Companies are so bland and blah. Why does everyone have to do the same thing? Which companies are going to break the mold and really set themselves apart from the rest of the pack? Who’s going to create a unique and better experience for me?
The Power of Purpose: Do we share the same values? We like to do business with companies that: do the right thing, put our best interests first, and value the same things we do. Companies that we can trust. Companies that we believe in. Companies whose purpose, whose why, aligns with our own.
Honestly, these all sound pretty reasonable to me. Nothing crazy here in terms of customer expectations. Any company that not only understands these powers but also puts them to good use is ahead of the game. Customers have a choice. They don’t have to buy from your company; they can go elsewhere. Take the time to understand and to really know your customers so that you can become their primary, or even only, choice.
Chuck closes the book with this Customer CEO Manifesto, as well as a guide to becoming a Customer CEO Champion. I recommend adopting this Manifesto as your own!
The greatest assets companies possess are not their buildings, brands,
or backgrounds. It’s their customers.
Remember… there’s only one boss. There’s only one CEO who matters.
If you don’t really believe that your customers are in charge, you are being stubborn. The reality is that your existing and potential customers can choose to do business however they want. You are merely one option in lives filled with too many choices, distractions, and debt. They can live without you.-Chuck Wall