Customer-Centricity In Six Steps

Author

Micah Solomon, Contributor

March 14, 2015

I’m going to show you how to build a customer-centric company culture in just six steps. I’m being serious as a heart attack here. Although (as a company culture and customer service consultant) there is a lot of detail and personalization involved in the work I do to help each client build a customer-centric culture, my instructions to them can, for the most part, be whittled down to the following six items.  It’s not a very long list, but every single item on this list is a necessity.

1. Start with a piece of paper–a very small piece of paper: Get your core values down on a piece of paper–a small piece of paper, using simple, meaningful words. Your core values should briefly state how customers, employees, and vendors should be treated. In my opinion, this means ‘‘the way you would like to be treated yourself–and maybe then some.’’ Ensure your list of core values is short enough that every employee can understand, memorize, and internalize it, yet long enough to be meaningful.

2. Bring that piece of paper to life: Train, support, hire, and, if necessary, use discipline to enforce what’s important to you. The values I just asked you to write down are just words on the paper until you build your systems and processes to support them.

For example:
• Review your hiring criteria and processes: A re you really hiring based on the traits required for great customer-facing work? (Here’s a lot more on this subject.)
• Review your training, support, advancement and disciplinary methodologies and practices: are you quickly course-correcting employees who make missteps with customers, are you supporting employees who need support, are you providing the necessary training and the proper tools to allow them to accomplish the level of service to which aspire?

3. Leverage the power of peer pressure, and of leading by example. Think of the Disney parks and how clean they are. While this may have started off as the result of Walt firing people on the spot if they didn’t pick up visible gum wrappers, today it’s because everyone who works there sees everyone else–from executives to seasonally hired kids–picking up litter. It’s the way you do things if you want to be part of this organization.

4. Pay your employees right. Pay them well, pay them in line with what people in similar positions outside your company make, and pay them in line with what people in similar positions/with similar credentials/with similar quality of work inside your company make—and don’t forget the importance and ethical imperative of providing benefits.

5. Improve how you treat subcontractors and vendors. Only appropriately treated subcontractors and vendors, acting as true partners, can come through for your company and its customers in times of need, and can extend your brand’s potential in an integrated and integral way.

6. Never let up. As Ray Davis, the president and CEO of Umpqua Bank, a U.S. retail bank that’s consistently top rated for service, puts it, ‘‘Maintaining a culture is like raising a teenager. You’re constantly checking in. What are you doing? Where are you going? Who are you hanging out with?’’And, sometimes, you have to use some tough love when that teenager is acting up in ways that don’t support the culture you’re working to build.

Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, corporate culture consultant and bestselling business author, most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

This article was written by Micah Solomon from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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