I was shook up from a deep slumber by a voice that sounded like my school headmistress “Sir, do you want to buy anything”. A 2 hour evening flight is just right to catch up with some sleep.
Seeing me wake up, the person sitting next to me seemed relieved(may be because of my snoring). We exchanged pleasantries like “the air hostess should not disturb sleeping customers, etc.,”. Soon the topic shifted to Customer Experience (CX) and how customer centricity is both behavior and skill. Of the two co-passengers in my row, one was from HR and another from Business Development. One of them was curious if there is a ‘model’ for every employee to become Customer Centric. That’s when I talked about “7 Acts of Customer Centric Professionals©” and here’s a brief on how every individual, every team, whether they are customer facing or not, can become customer centric.
7 Acts of Customer Centric Pro© facts:
- It involves 7 simple acts or steps that everyone of us can follow to become customer centric, irrespective of sector we belong to
- These 7 acts canbe used by the teams and by individuals, by customer facing personnel and internal functions like HR, Finance, IT, etc.
- These can be used for daily work management (transactional situations) as well as for systematic problem solving
- 7 steps can be used sequentially or each step can be used in isolation
- Applied in full spirit, these include behavioral changes and skill development to become customer centric professional
Here are the 7 Acts for you:
1. Empathize with Customers
We all focus on meeting customer requirements or needs. Think of a doctor who painfully cures a patient’s ailment versus one who does so without pain or misery (Watch this video a doctor do so with babies). So fulfilling customer requirements can be very mechanical without empathy for them. Building a habit to put ourselves in the internal or external customer’s situation will help us in build emotional awareness of customers’ situation and their challenges, easily. There are also several Customer Centric Design tools, methods and techniques to do so. When you wish to build this as a part of your organization’s culture, talking about it will only help to certain extent.
2. Take Ownership
Empathizing is a good act only if we proactively take ownership of the customer’s situation. If you believe that it’s not in my job description, so how can I do it? Won’t I be poking my nose into another department’s business? I can only do so much, rest is out of my control. This is an indicator of your attitude towards ‘ownership’. May be your concerns are genuine. May be you are not aware of the difference between accountability and responsibility May be your organization doesn’t explicitly clarify these to all its employees.
3. Analyze the reason
By merely, empathizing and taking ownership, you will only formally induct yourself into the suffering. You have to switch gears and hunt down the root cause of the situation, whether it is a customer in difficulty or systemic problem. You have to identify system level root causes for the issue and fix them. Real cause is a devil and its going to mask itself, so you will need structured tools, techniques and approaches to unearth it.
4. Create Buy-In
For some problems, without the participation of other stakeholders you may not be able to complete the analysis. Yet for other situations, without their buy-in your analysis would only go into archives. As a customer centric professional, you should be very well versed in persuading other stakeholders (internal departments, bosses, peers, sub-ordinates, vendors, business partners,etc) to engage and actively participate in analysis or developing solution for the situation.
5. Test & Implement Solution
You have to be courageous enough to challenge the status-quo policies and processes in the organization to come up with solutions. At the same time, you should be open to creating unorthodox ways to address the pain points of customers. Also recognizing that nothing can be made perfect the first time, and constant iteration through prototyping, piloting and testing with customers is the only way to build customer centric solutions is equally important.
6. Become a Role Model
Its disappointing to see rule makers to be first the rule breakers! As a customer centric professional, others look up to you for your proactiveness, innate passion & skills to put customer at the heart of the business. That means, you have outwardly (and inwardly) demonstrate the above 5 steps systematically and with rigor in all situations.
7. Establish Rituals
Rituals are practices that will make sure customer centric solutions and culture are sustained in the organization. They could be simple routines like sun-rise meetings, reviews, celebrating role models, successes, sharing best practices, reviews, etc. It can be anything that will make the culture stick.As a customer centric professional you take responsibility to establish and institutionalize such rituals.
By using the above 7 Acts you can become a Customer Centric Pro©