The fourth and final pillar that helps companies align to customers is leadership.  Leadership is the beginning or the end of customer service just as it is the beginning and end of all victories (or losses).

  • Culture – What are we and how do we behave when no one is watching over our backs?  Start-ups in particular have the ability to set a purposeful course with their companies.  Companies that value customers holistically (i.e. those that value long-term relationships over short-term financial transactions) set the tone.  They ensure that expectations can be met before a sale is made and they make the customer experience a journey that encompasses the entire brand.
  • Focus – Can our people depend on us to execute on a sharp vision of future, or are we tempted to try to do everything at once?  Organizational ADD benefits no one; not customers, not employees, and not shareholders.
  • Honesty/Integrity – Self-evident?  Hope so.  Fact is, words don’t carry same weight/impact that actions do.  Regardless of whether you think personal conduct is relevant to professional capabilities, our people look to leaders.  When leaders fail, organizations slide down the slippery slope to failure also.
  • Transparency – Transparency is a key element in trust.  The more we disclose to employees, the less we hide and the more authentic the conversations become.  For those uncomfortable with the process, read Jack Stack’s book, The Great Game of Business.
  • Outcome Orientation – Want people to give their best each day?  Ask them to deliver results and don’t dictate the method.  People bring different skills to work each day.  When we give them latitude to use those skills they feel better, are more willing to develop and contribute new skills, and add an element of innovation throughout each day.  Take the opposite tack and leave employees with little discretion and you should assume you’ll get little effort and commitment.

The pivot point is that employees (the same ones that interact with customers and deliver service each day) will observe and mimic the customer focus that the leadership team sets.

Aligning your Business to Customers: Pillar 4 – Leadership
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  • David Mellon

    Small companies struggle with this due to cash flow, large public companies struggle with this due to investor expectations, employees struggle with this due to work load. The 4 tower are critical to long term business growth and if it was easy, all business would be successful.

  • This is right on the money. I’ve noticed if you take a look a company that is over performing in customer service like Zappo’s, you’ll see they are engaged in all of these suggestions.

    David- you are right about the fact that it’s difficult for small companies and large public companies to provide this type of customer focus. Making it work is really what makes a company stand out.

    • Thanks for your comment. Zappos is excellent example of how delivering service improves growth, revenue, and profitability.

      As you say, “making it work” is what counts… and is what makes managing the customer experience so difficult. Customer Service Principles are Meaningless http://bit.ly/hKjX0Y