Effective execution requires learning; which requires metrics that show how customer experiences are impacting business results. You can’t fix execution mistakes that you can’t see.
More often than not, management approaches [and the metrics managers rely upon to manage] fail to have a systemic view of what’s working and what isn’t. Being customer-focused requires being good at several things all at once. In many firms, it’s hard to do. There’s a focus on improving one part of a system without understanding how it relates to others. Being customer focused requires more than just analyses of individual parts of a system; it requires proactive management of how the system as a whole performs. Customer-centric firms conquer this “upgrade the parts” thinking.
He makes the case for using ‘voice of customer command centers’. He notes that it takes a combination of leadership, collaboration, and technology to truly understand and improve customer experiences. This triumvirate provokes the learning needed to be customer centric. And being customer centric doesn’t just mean screwing up less often; not screwing up is hardly a memorable customer experience. Memorable customer experiences are rarely technology-created. Technology is still a poor substitute for human interaction.
Customer-centric firms empower their front-line employees; they give employees the authority, insights, and motivation needed to delight customers. They give their employees more authority and support to create value for customers. And then they back their employees up.
Really liked Bob’s metaphor of technology as “key grip” in enabling valuable customer experiences. “In filmmaking, a “key grip” is the person who manages lighting and camera movement. You don’t see the key grip or the workers (grips), but if they didn’t do their job well your experience would suffer”. Customer centric firms use high tech to be high touch. They ‘get’ that their customers deserve to be served as people, not bar-codes.
How mature is your customer-focus? Roughly 70% of firms are fairly new to the idea of being customer-centric. They’re either targeted on customers or responsive to customers. The remainder are either engaged with customers, or inspired by customers. In how they behave and execute. In how they measure their operational performance. Such firms are abnormal. They’re exceptionally high performing because their customer experiences are better.*
Looking to differentiate your firm from the crowd? Be customer-centric. Read Bob’s practical tips on how to be so.
The proof of higher business performance from better customer experiences? Consider a portfolio of firms that rated high on customer satisfaction[the ACSI fund]. Investing in such firms from April 2000 to April 2012 yielded a gain of 390% compared with a 7% loss for the S&P 500.