Who You Are Affects Customer Focus
Virtually every company and government organization develops products and/or services for its external customers. Who am I to tell you how to do it for your particular business? You know the business. You talk with your customers. That’s not an issue. So what is the issue? How do you develop customer focused products and services?
Well, we’ve been talking about the issue for the past several months in our newsletter series on becoming customer focused. Any or all of the three primary elements of your business, its organization, operations, or individuals, either support or impede its ability to be customer focused. Conversely, a business’ ability to be customer focused depends on its ability and willingness to integrate customer focus into each of these elements. The following diagram summarizes this point. To be truly customer focused with a strong ability to develop customer focused products and services and services, your business must develop and fortify what is often called “line of sight to the customer.”
Line of Sight to the Customer
Another way of thinking about line of sight is alignment. If all the elements are lined up with each other and focused ultimately on the external customer, the products and services naturally fulfill customer needs, because they are focused on serving customer needs. When we have occlusion in any one of the business elements it tends to “rub off” on the products and services we develop. In that sense, businesses tend to project their dysfunctional parts onto customers through their products and services, because they become more focused on their dysfunctional parts than on their customers. They do not do this intentionally! It is a very unconscious process – but it is very real.
Please allow me to clarify this concept of projection in a story about how a man projects onto his wife what has happened to him in his life:
A woman’s husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. After my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. After we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?” “What dear?” she gently asked, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth. “I think you’re bad luck.”
Rather than look at what he has done to help bring about these “bad” life events, the man blames his wife for them! Rather than see her love for what it is, he “puts his head on her shoulders”, so to speak. This is projection.
Years ago I did some work for a software company that had a suite of products. They had a “consensus culture” where it seemed anybody could have an opinion about anything. (The real problem was an organizational reluctance to empower people.) One of their products was an email system modeled after their own homegrown system. In terms that we all understand today, it required that you always “Reply to All” on any email. This supposedly contributed to the process of reaching consensus, and actually worked sometimes. Other times it resulted in a huge email string involving sometimes hundreds of people who wasted a lot of time reading the latest opinions on the topic at hand. Still, the people in the organization loved the system. When they sold this product to some clients, the clients didn’t have the adoring reaction they had expected – for reasons I’m sure you can imagine!
This is an example of projection in the business world. This software business projected its own cultural preferences onto its clients without consciously realizing it. Their reluctance to empower people in their own organization “rubbed off” on their email product in a striking example of customer focus gone awry. Certainly, this is no way to develop customer focused products and services.
By developing and fortifying line of sight to the customer, we can help avoid this kind of projection and pave the way to developing customer focused products and services. Remember, to do well on the outside with your products and services, do your work on the inside with your organization, operations, and individuals. And don’t forget to pay attention to you internal customers as well as your external customers. If you are interested in our other newsletters on customer focus topics, please click on the links below:
- Developing Customer Focus
- The Drive to Become Customer Focused
- What to Consider When Implementing Customer Focus
- Developing Customer Focused People
- Developing Customer Focused Operations
- Building Customer Focused Organizations – A Consultant’s Secret
- Developing Customer Focused Leadership
I truly hope this series on customer focus has given you some valuable insights that will help you drive enhanced customer focus in your own organization. See our Customer Focus Services page or Contact Us for help with your customer focus journey.
Skills Corner: Tips for Customer Focus
Providing Exceptional Service
To retain and attract new customers/clients not only do you need a great product or service, but you must also deliver a positive work experience. The customer relationship goes far beyond landing the sale – the daily interactions your service and internal groups have with the customer are critical to building and keeping the relationship strong. Here are some things to help you create and deliver a positive experience for your customer.
Be Easy to Work With
You don’t want to make working with you a difficult experience. Therefore, put processes in place that are service oriented. Find out what it is like to be your customer. Put yourself in their place and identify ways to improve your processes.
Ask for feedback and follow through
Find out how you can exceed your customer’s expectations. Ask them how you can improve the way in which you work together. To find out what your customers really think about you–email them, call them, do surveys and visit them.
Identify ways to delight your customers
This involves going above and beyond their expectations. Send a thank you note, send articles of interest or take them out for a cup of coffee.
Encourage your team to go the extra mile
Reward those who create a positive customer encounter and have consequences for those who do not.
Resolve customer complaints quickly and effectively
Upset customers are part of every business and project. How you deal with a complaint is what makes a difference. Remember to apologize for their inconvenience, empathize and finally focus on positive actions.
These tips will help you delight your customers with exceptional service, powerful relationships, and optimum results.
At Advance Consulting we have helped many organizations in their pursuit to develop customer focused products and services. We can help you develop and implement customer focus in your business. For more information, see our Customer Focus services. Or, Contact Us for a no-obligation consultation.