Becoming a customer-focused organization starts with a company’s culture. Organizational leaders must provide clear guidance on what is expected of their employees and the proper training and tools to deliver excellent customer experiences. While price will continue to play a major role in business decisions, customers are more likely to remain with a company that provides convenience, transparency, and simplified experiences. As companies examine their customer experience strategies, here are a few tips on how to create a customer-centric company culture.
1. Clearly express your central philosophy. A value statement that encapsulates your company’s mission to be a customer-focused organization can greatly impact the company culture. Find an operating principle that clearly represents a decision or what the company stands for.
2. Support your central philosophy with a list of core values. The list of values should be short enough that it’s easy for employees to understand and remember those values, while still being meaningful. For example, consider including values that illustrate how customers, employees, and vendors should be treated.
3. Share your philosophy during orientation. Make sure that new hires understand the company’s customer philosophy and core values from day one. Share real examples of how employees have reflected the company’s values and help new employees feel that they are part of a team.
4. Do frequent assessments, and, if necessary, use discipline to enforce these values. A values statement and core values are meaningless if its employees aren’t upholding them. Senior executives and managers should be responsible for checking in on their teams and looking for examples of how employees are upholding the company values. Leaders should also ask employees for feedback on what is needed to better serve the customer and follow through on those requests. Companies also need a policy for warning and disciplining employees who aren’t supporting the culture you’re working to build.
5. Use visual reminders. Zappos highlights one of its core values, “delivering happiness” on each box it ships out. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is known for leaving one seat empty at company meetings to represent “the most important person in the room—the customer.” It may seem like a gimmick, but visual cues like these serve as a constant reminder of the company’s commitment to the customer.
6. Be consistent. Reinforce your commitment to these values regularly. No one enjoys being quizzed, but consider asking an employee to recite the list of values at a departmental meeting to make sure it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. It’s also important to acknowledge employees for exemplifying the company’s values. Encourage employees and managers to nominate colleagues who went above and beyond expectations to help a customer.
Building a customer-centric company culture won’t happen overnight, but leaders who empower their employees with the right training, information, and tools to better serve their customers set the foundation for a culture that’s devoted to the customer experience.
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