Got The Ticket To Ride?
“It’s not your product or your price that impresses me most at the end of the day. It is your intention that counts. If your intention is to help me save time, money and effort & solve my problem in the process of using you and not just increase your profitability then let this reflect in all that you do – especially in your interactions with me.
I think rationally about your product benefits, I sense your intentions and react emotionally to them. And I don’t need to tell you which of these makes a more permanent impression on me and who I will dip into my pocket for ceteris paribus.”
That’s the consumer speaking. Loud and clear, saying, `Show me that I matter to you’
And most companies have cottoned on. The buzzword in corporate corridors is `customer-centricity’ with most brands/companies professing to be customer-centric. Then why does the customer fail to see this passion of theirs?! Possibly,
(1) This is just conference room lip-service that grows cold and tepid as fast as the conference room tea
(2) There is a genuine focus on this at strategy levels but by the time we reach the `boundary spanners’ – the customer-facing employees – the focus is diluted.
The first case is not worth wasting time on – these brands won’t be around much longer! The second – now that’s something we can work on!
So what can be done to make the customer orientation trickle down to all levels?
Well, making customer-centricity a part of the company’s DNA is not a quick fix task. It’s a whole new way of looking at the business and aligning the structure, systems, processes and most importantly, the culture around it.
But we’ve got to begin someplace huh? In this case, it’s a good idea, to begin with getting everyone on board the customer-centricity bus.
So how can you get them to buy their tickets for the ride? Tell them where you are going and why. The route will take some doing. But this should do for starters.
Find a common vision that can resonate with everyone in the organization. A good way to figure this out is to ask the question
- ‘WHY are we in this business’
- Not the WHAT we do or
- HOW we do it but the WHY. The reason the business was born.
What is it that you started off trying to mean to customers and what is it they experience now? Dust away the cobwebs and find what it was that you wanted to give to the world that gave birth to the business.
Communicate. Let the customer and her concerns & that the company is interested in it be up there in the vision statement, mission statements, on the website and other internal communication media.
Walk the Talk. Let everyone from the CEO down make visible and genuine efforts to put the customer first. To begin connecting with customers as people, not numbers on a spreadsheet.
Unilever’s Project Bushfire is an example, where all employees, CEO downwards, are encouraged to meet at least five consumers a month and garner consumer insight & address complaints quickly. As HUL CEO, Nitin Paranjpe says, “The exercise gets the entire organization thinking about how to get sensitive to consumers needs”
These first steps
- Re-discovering why you are in the business & what you want to mean to the customer
- Communicating the story to everyone in the organization
- Making visible moves right from the top-level demonstrating the commitment
begin to create a shared understanding on which the rest of the customer-centricity journey can be fashioned.
Who all are aboard?