How to foster a customer-centric mindset in a dollars-driven reality.
For six years, I’d held a Customer Service job with essentially one objective: make everyone around me happy, and make customers happy as a consequence. It was perfect for my gregarious, people-pleasing personality. The year 2015, however, brought with it a role change and a game-changing truth: businesses are more than just smiles, free food, and birthday celebrations. As it happens, most companies exist to make money.
Moving from a Customer Service role into a professional services organization caused a significant mental evolution. The all-important “C-Sat” (Customer Satisfaction Rate) suddenly took back stage to a far more demanding metric…revenue. While this transition was very disorienting at first, a customer-centric mentality once again helped me find my way. After all, happy customers and revenue are very closely related.
Now finding myself back in a Customer Service role, my perspective is greatly broadened. Having been forged in the fires of a customer-centric mentality, and now understanding the revenue generating side of the business, I can make better decisions. Many things can drive better customer experience in the short term, but may ultimately be detrimental to the business in the end. Adding the “revenue reality check” taught me a new language – the language of enterprise value. By finding opportunities to enhance the customer experience, while also enhancing the bottom line, CX leaders will find far fewer barriers to impacting change.
It’s our responsibility as CX leaders to be a powerful voice for the customer. However, our ability to perform in this function is greatly enhanced when we also understand the objectives of the larger organization. Viewing the world through the lens of the customer is vital, but you will lose focus and credibility if this is the only perspective you have. You must bring narratives together in order to find truth and tell the right story. Enterprise value is the language of the executive. Learn to speak it, or become stuck between customer needs and organizational understanding. Using statics such as these from InsightSquared will bring your narrative out of the hypothetical “touchy-feely” realm and give you credibility in associating CX initiatives to the bottom line:
Are you a Customer Service leader looking to speak the language of enterprise value? Start with these simple actions:
- Solve a problem that’s not (directly) your problem – Understand the challenges that your sales and marketing leaders are experiencing and find a way for customer service to be involved in the solution. Customer service can nearly always make a positive impact on sales and marketing challenges. Helping the organization achieve a more consistent brand voice is an excellent example.
- Read “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” by Jeanne Bliss – Whether your organization has a CCO or not, the idea of bringing leaders together to create a customer growth engine is a total game-changer. This book will help you to see the big picture and renew your thinking.
Give yourself more dots to connect – As Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” Think about the part of your business for which you know the least. Get intentional about learning this area and other areas so that you can be more creative in solving the big ticket problems.
- Avoid the “fortress” mentality – Customer Service can become a place where all the unwanted tasks of the business collect. It’s easy to become territorial and try to shield the department from anything not directly in the scope of service. The organizational siege of problems will never end, but this mentality ultimately leads to support being viewed as a non-strategic cost center. Lower the drawbridge and focus on finding win-win situations for all parties.
For additional reading on speaking the language of enterprise value for CX initiatives, I recommend the following:
- Nancy Porte’s article on Developing a CX Business Case
- “3 Strategies to Sell the CEO on CXM” from a variety of top practitioners written by Bob Thompson
- Jeanne Bliss’s article entitled “Yes Good CX is Tied to Revenue Gains”
I’m sure these tips will help to make your customer voice even stronger. As Jeremy Watkin says, ROI discussions will not lead to great cultures; customer-centricity and a focus on employees do. As with most things, it’s all about balance and maintaining a larger perspective. Leave a comment sharing a way you have learned to speak the language of enterprise CX value!