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“You can’t wash feet from the top.” Such a profound statement even when I look at it in the vein of the enterprise. And especially when presented with research which declares that “80% of executives believe they deliver a superior customer experience but only 8% of customers agree.”

The word “service” in “customer service” requires really placing an emphasis on the customer and serving them. In fact, the road to customer experience prowess is marked with conscious and constant awareness—an awareness of our customers and an awareness of their spoken and unspoken needs. Customer intimacy means putting aside our lofty view of who we think we are as a company and seeing ourselves through the eyes of our customer, that 8%. We need to climb down off of our rocky, self-made pedestals where we proclaim to the market and anyone who would dare to listen that we provide superior customer experiences and remember to “wash feet.”

The act of washing feet implies bending —flexible products, flexible service—to meet our customers’ needs. When I look at Amazon, they are leading the market with service. A recent Forbes article said, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, was “coddling his 164 million customers.” This seems daunting given his customer base yet he pampers his customers and with his “empty chair” concept he brings the customer to every meeting. The customer silently dictates while Amazon responds and reminds us that “leadership is a product of service.” When we harness customer data and customer feedback from across the entire enterprise to gain accurate insights into their needs, we place ourselves in the perfect position to “wash feet.”

We’re here to serve the customer. It’s not enough however, to busy ourselves with creating customer experience strategies if we fail to provide the structure to sustain it. Employees at every touch-point and at every level should be customer-minded. And we can’t relegate it to frontline employees only as everyone impacts the customer. Training employees to treat customers with empathy entails that the C-Suite first exemplify this. In a recent tweet chat @DerekFMartin shared that every executive at American Express listens to customer calls—no one is above washing feet. This is something that we can all perhaps emulate as a step in changing our approach to serving our customers. Structure and focused discipline means not only that employees have a mind for service but also that they’re equipped for service with the relevant customer insight at a moment’s notice.

Every moment we forget to serve our customers, we’ve missed a step. They are the reason we’re in business. How are you ensuring that you stay connected to your customer and their needs? How do you ensure others in organization are doing the same?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stacy Leidwinger
Stacy Leidwinger serves as product management director for the Vivisimo Velocity Information Optimization Platform. In her role, she assists in driving product roadmap, market requirements, product positioning as well as interacting closely with customers and partners to understand their information challenges.


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