Karl Albrecht, said “If you’re not serving the customer, you’d better be serving someone who is”. As one of the top ten richest men in the world and CEO of ALDI, he’s well qualified to comment on the importance of putting customer centricity at the top of the corporate agenda. He’s also a great role model for the commercial advantage of such a mission.
Putting the customer at the start and the heart of business strategy is something we at Lexden are committed to. Which means helping everyone involved in client commissions understand the following:
1) who the customer really is
2) helping the ‘back office’ understand their impact on the ‘front office’ customer experience
Point 1 may seem obvious, but when you think about where a hire company asks you to return a car, (typically their office) ask yourself is that at your convenience or theirs? It feels like they see the car as the one to look after.
A similar occurrence happens with some utility companies. Many in these business’ will claim because they have a legal obligation to tend to a meter, even if the user (what we might call the consumer) abandons it then that is their customer. This gets very complicated when it comes to customer experiences like moving home! When the customer moves home they can receive a communication saying ‘sorry you’ve left us’, when all they thought they were doing was moving down the road!
Point 2 is trickier and requires an expert stakeholder management approach. This primarily focuses on finding a common objective for those close to the customer and those a step or two away. An advanced technique is to create customer as a common currency. A broadband provider trade in NPS points internally. So ops know what 5 pts NPS means on their resources, as does the CFO on profitability, as does the brand manager on share of market.
The other way is to highlight to the back office operators the impact it has on customers. Bringing these observations (ideally through VoC verbatim or call recordings) to life really helps to hammer home the point.
Xerox has produced a great set of b2b ads which reinforce the point that a business is in business to meet its customers needs, not to do the back office stuff. This ancillary requirement comes as part of running a business but it’s irrelevant to customers. Xerox put it as follows, we get on with the stuff that keeps you from doing what you should be doing which is providing products and services which make customers lives better.
The series also includes equally amusing ads for Ducatti. The insight I believe is a strong one and highlights why business’ do lose touch with their customers.
We’ve often said every decision can be measured against the question, ‘is it taking us towards out customer vision?’ If the answer is yes then that must mean it’s a) better for customers b) sustainable for the business c) differentiating for the brand d) motivating for employees and e) operationally viable. Keep it commercial and you stand a chance of keeping customer on the agenda.
So as you see, it’s critical to put the customer at the heart of the decision-making, Otherwise CX improvements tend to be bias towards the improvement areas of those sitting round the table – especially as there can be several interpretations of who a customer is.
Posted by Christopher Brooks
Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy.
We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.
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