A customer-centric Thanksgiving

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A colleague recently asked how to increase customer centricity. The discussion evolved to considering how much of the transformation depends on the nature of the specific organization and, if we use the metaphor of setting a table, where do we start?

Setting the table is a great metaphor, but with this being Thanksgiving week here across the USA, let’s tweak it just a bit and consider the customer-centric Thanksgiving.

The centerpiece of this meal, for me at least, will be the Customer Insights group. I’m going to invest time, energy and resources into this centerpiece, place it where all can see it and make sure it has easy access to the head of the table. It has both analytics and voice of the customer capabilities. Across the table I expect employees and departments to make a meal from some portion of that main dish.

The side dishes, other departments and functions, are also important to me. A great meal has a well-balanced helping from different departments. Some people don’t like one portion touching another on their plate, but me, I like to see how they combine and complement each other.

Organizational design is like the table and chairs, along with a seating arrangement; it’s where you intend to set people down. That’s a good starting point, but people tend to move their own seating over time, so don’t get too worked up on that as long as the interaction is productive. Oh, and look over there…we’ve managed to Skype in Lisa from a distance! I guess we have to make room next to those brick and mortar chairs for those who join us in their own unique ways. By the way, earlier in the day, a neighbor came by to borrow a cup of customer insight. She called it benchmarking or something like that.

The music, decor, and smell of cooking up a great customer experience — it all creates an ambiance that some think of as structured process; I think of it as shaping the cultural nuances of the meal. Of course it’s how you greet your guests that really set the tone; a great host finds little ways to tailor the menu to the special needs of each guest. I know, it’s a extra work, but I love that look on their faces when they realize how much we truly care about them. They sometimes recount stories from past encounters here, and when they meet a new guest, they even tell those stories without my prodding them. I guess your guests really add to the whole cultural customer experience if you treat them well and seat them near new guests.

Technology? It’s a bit like having a spoon, knife and fork at your table. Even simple ones are better than nothing. A good spoon will help you pick up the data, while a knife and fork will help you separate it into more digestible pieces. Most people are happy with the basics as long as they know they are readily accessible when they need them. To carve up the Turkey you want to make sure you have invested in purpose built utensils. It makes it that much easier to slice and dice, to segment, and serve up great looking customer data –I mean great looking servings of Turkey!

We always have a few extra seats for customers who are just dropping by; when necessary we squeeze together so a few more can join us, making sure we don’t do any disservice to those already at the table. Nothing is worse than seeing a long-time guests leave in frustration because you have gotten too focused on new guests! My daughter, “Call center Cathy”, keeps track of the people coming by so we know when we need to add a few more chairs. She has gotten really good at monitoring who is coming up the walkway.

A great meal, of course, isn’t just the food, table or fancy settings — it’s all about how you connect and engage with each other. We talk about that and discuss our future together. And we wonder how soon we can get everyone back in the room. After all, Christmas is just around the corner!

Wishing you all a very customer-centric and happy Thanksgiving

BestCustomerConnection, by Marc Sokol

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