So far we have focused on the tools of Customer Value Management, what Customer Value is, how it is measured and how it relates to business results such as loyalty, market share, profits and stock price. We have learnt all these increase as Customer Value Added increases.
In this chapter, we will discuss how the company can impact mind-sets and increase Customer Value.
To do so, first the company has to recognise that the Customer belongs to everyone in the company. That is everyone has a responsibility to (not necessarily for) the Customer. No one can turn around and say I have nothing to do with the Customer, whether you are directly involved with the Customer in selling, in delivering, in servicing, in understanding his needs, in answering his queries or solving his problems (People directly involved can see the connection to the Customer).
Those indirectly involved like the receptionist, marketing people, the secretaries, the manufacturing people, finance people, IT people, technology staff, HRD staff, back end people also have a responsibility to the Customer. They may not think so, nor may they be taught to do so. Total Customer Value Management ensures that all members of the company and our partners understand the importance of the Customer and that it is the Value for the Customer that we wish to increase.
This is shown through the learnings of Total Customer Value Management as taught in my book, Total Customer Value Management, Transforming Business Thinking. This book assigns Customer tasks to everyone in the company. We suggest and help companies change the mind-set of all employees to become Customer-centric.
If you are in a department facing the Customer, you may be taught how to handle the Customer. Certain processes are discussed and used, and so too, certain systems.
What differentiates a company in the eyes of a Customer
Generally, Customers can tell from the attitude and demeanour of the people whether thy have a Customer culture or a Customer mind-set. Most companies do not have a 360 or complete Customer culture. Often it (the Customer culture) is patchy. We want the culture to be uniformly good. A great Customer mind-set set in a company is an unparalleled competitive advantage and one very difficult to emulate. Training cannot build a good mind-set. This has to come from self-introspection and is self-directed. Education can help this process
What prevents a Customer culture?
Executives are company centric and not Customer centric
The convenience of the company is more important than the convenience of the Customer
Executives forget what it is to be a Customer. All executives are Customers and have varied Customer experiences, but they forget this. They exchange their Customer hat for the executive or company hat
It is easier to work on processes and systems than to work on the mind-set
There is no process or Total Customer Value Management system in place with Customer tasks for all departments and their executives
Short term results overtake all other considerations, such as changing the culture
The executive feels he works for the owners not for the Customers
What promotes a Customer Culture
A belief that the Customer comes first, whatever happens.
Building a Customer strategy to bring key executives into the Customer thinking and for them to take charge of the Customer work . This is discussed in the next chapter (chapter 10) in detail. Companies like Tata Power have done this
Customer Centric Circles . This is also discussed in detail in the next chapter. These circles consist of frontline people and some staff executives from HRD, IT, Finance etc. to build a self directed approach to become Customer centric. Many companies, such as Tata Chemicals, Coromandel International and Godrej have set up such Circles. The results have been a great reduction in complaints, an increase in sales and Customer Value. The changes happen very fast.
Continuous Customer Improvement Programs (CCIP) . As a result of the Customer Strategy and the Customer Centric Circles, a Continuous Customer Improvement Program is put into place.
Customers’ Bill of Rights and the Circle of Promises . These are incorporated in a company to ensure the Customers’ rights are published, understood and upheld. The Circle of Promises is an internal methodology to ensure everyone in the chain of delivering the Customers’ rights has promised to do his bit in keeping the promise to the Customer. This is discussed in detail in Chapter 11.
Systemic changes (when you see a problem and solve it for one Customer, ask how the system can be changed to prevent similar problems in future for other Customers)
A focus on creating value for employees and other stakeholders . This creates value added stakeholders who can more readily add value to Customers
Executive time : Executives must spend at least 15% of their time on Customers
Some of these steps are discussed in the next few chapters.
Total Customer Value Management brings all departments and executives to have a Customer focus. It is the foundation of building a Customer culture. Customer strategy and Customer Centric Circles are all building blocks of the Customer culture and a Customer mind-set. This gives the company a great competitive advantage.
Do it yourself
How much work is done on processes and systems in your company versus changing mind-sets?
Does your management believe training can change mind-sets or is it a self-directed change in people?
Rate the mind-set of the front line people, of the executives and the top staff on the Customer
How could you get someone who is loyal to your competitor to become loyal to you? Give a generic answer and another answer specific to the context
Are companies loyal to Customers? To employees? Should they be?
If they are, what are the benefits and the downside?
You can contact the author at [email protected] for answers or view the website www.CustomerValuefoundation.com