The Dangers Of Paying Lip Service To Customer Centricity

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Is your company talking more and more about customer centricity? It’s quite the important topic. For executives sitting through last month’s performance review meeting, however, I wonder how often the subject of lost business is properly addressed. Most probably, the notion of lost or “missed” business will surface when the head of sales complains of such and such logistics problems, inclement weather, an unexpected event and/or a lost contract. Marketing people may be defending why their new product launch did not jump out of the gates as hoped for. HR teams will be updating on recruitment holes left unfilled. The factory will be pinning their service woes on forecast problems. The CFO will be harping on about cost cutting and ‘synergy’ programs… And so on. Throughout all these discussions, I rarely would hear the voice of the customer.

Where’s your customer?

Empty Chair - myndset brand strategy

The famed “Jeff Bezos” empty chair representing the customer

Sure, I have always said that execution is strategic (delivering on your promise, etc); yet, in many situations, the problem is well beyond that. I classify the issues into two camps: purpose and purposeful.

Your Purpose. Do you know what you stand for? Do your employees, stakeholders and customers understand and believe in your purpose? Are your personal values aligned with the business’ mission and behaviors (i.e. actions). If not, there is bound to be an excess of lethargy and dead wood, creating entropy and inefficiencies. {Click to Tweet}

Purposeful. On a more granular level, are you purposefully listening to, engaging with and concerned about your customer(s)? If your executive manhours are galvanized essentially around operational and financial issues, the customer is bound to be left out. You might say you love your customers; but, you are not showing it. The key is to align your video with your audio, as Robin Sharma always says! {Click to Tweet}

Has your business lost “it”?

How to tell when a brand gets “it” (walks the talk about being customer centric) versus ignores its customer? Scores of companies talk about being customer centric and how important it is to their success. Yet, customer service is outsourced, customer relationship marketing programs are an alibi for outbound spam and customer fidelity is reduced to a loyalty rebate card.

Here are some other tell-tale examples:

  • The customer service hotline has an automated telephone message. When you finally get a human being on the other end, the overly scripted ”representative” also has a hard-to-understand accent = high abandonment, high frustration, unknown lost potential
  • There are numerous unanswered questions on social media = disregard and lost potential
  • The website still is not mobile friendly (much less mobile perfect) = high drop off, low conversion rate
  • Email campaigns are pushed out with increasing desperation (frequent, impersonal and commercial…) = ignored, irritated, unsubscribed…
  • There are a large number of “fans” on Facebook (probably ‘purchased’) and zero engagement = tasteless, wasted and disengaged…
  • The CEO never meets customers in a candid manner = loses touch, models the wrong behavior to other employees, does not know the real customer…
  • When you call head office, you are managed by a curt operator who does not take messages = reflects the way you treat your partners and employees?

Every business has to make money. Every company needs to figure out its business model and perfect its product mix. But, businesses that do not tend to their customer base — with an eye to earning their long-term fidelity — will end up losing out.

How clear is the why of your business? And, do your customers sit at your executive table? {Click to Tweet}

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