As promised from Part I last week, this week we are going to be a bit more visual. Last week we quoted a study from Bain & Co (“Closing the Delivery Gap“) that called out just how few customers agree with the CEO’s perception of the customer experience they are providing. We then laid out the four core elements of the “Customer-First” Org as:
Clarity of Purpose
A couple of weeks ago a reader commented on how their team suddenly gelled and had a new-found clarity to their team's mission once they worked through who their real customer was. In their case, it turned out that their customer was an internal group - someone we might normally define as a "colleague". This is sometimes hard to manage, in part because everyone wants to feel like they are close to "the" customer and in part because in some business cultures it is just difficult to treat a "colleague" that way for a number of reasons - you might have been trained to think of them as a competitor, or there just might be a sense of "territory" around your relationship.
Apple was the surprising bad example that popped up this week that helped me answer a common "Customer-First" question.
Today's post is inspired by Stan Rapp, Chairman Emeritus of Engauge Marketing and a mentor from my MRM days who always finds ways to connect dots others never see, nor misses a chance to “Think Big!”.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty and complexity of the modern customer experience and how to tweak all the levers of a modern, high-tech relationship to become “Customer-First”, I thought it might be best to start with the basics and take a look at the “First Customer”.
Ötzi, as he is affectionately known in Austria, is our case study today ( his reconstructed face shown above). While we never found a store receipt on him that would indicate that he truly was “Customer #00000000001”, the nature of the discovery of his mummified remains in the Alps (found in just a tad over on the Italian side of the border in 1991), provide some intriguing insights into the basics of customer experience.
“Customer-First” is a good buzzword in some circles recently, particularly among those working in the “Customer Experience” space. It’s a word that I originally picked up while working in Japan managing the Lands’ End operations there in the 1990’s. We were looking for an easier way to simplify what we stood for in order to get all of our Japanese colleagues on board with what the essence of Lands’ End was. Believe it or not, the “Japanized” version “カスタマー・ファースト” is what we used before I made a habit of using it in English. As a department manager however, it was electrifying to see what the impact was of having such a simple, clear mission for everyone. The one thing I learned above all else and that will come through on these pages going forward was that going out of your way for a customer is actually the most efficient business model there is.
NOTE: This post was originally submitted as guest content on 18 Oct, 2011 for the Balancing Business and Law Blog sponsored by Equinox Law Group
There are many facets to creating a “Customer-First” business culture. Every part of your business should feel responsible for its customers and constantly redesign itself around behaving that way. Three core areas I always focus on are Management, Marketing and Sales, and Operations. These core functions can make high-impact changes that can generate improved customer experiences, better employee morale and higher margins through improved sales. For every major function or process in your business, the question should be asked – “How to I design this around my customer”?