Customer Experience: The Biggest Team in Business
- Posted: 4th May 2016
- Written by:
Alex Dickerson @alexdickerson93
What is the point of business?
It is to deliver something of value for a customer in return for money or services. It is an extremely simple idea; so why isn’t everyone getting the first bit right?
Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, famously coined the phrase:
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”.
I love this quote. It is so simplistic and obvious, but yet seems to be forgotten by businesses all the time. No one in any brand is bigger or more important than the customer; and any successful business leader will agree.
So with this in mind, how have we come to have single departments focused on customer experience? If a customer is so important to business, and every interaction with it counts towards the experience…this customer experience team must be, by definition, the size of the business, no?
The Customer Experience Conundrum
As always with things like this, its far easier to say than do. We can all say that all we need to do to succeed is to put the customer at the heart of everything we do, but in practice – that is so bloody hard! Legacy technologies, inefficient processes and not-so-customer-focused people all hinder us from doing so. So how can the customer experience really become the responsibility of the entire business, if the business is stopping this happening?
In my opinion, it has to be driven by the people that do ‘get it’ and that care.
Richard Branson is an individual who I admire very much. It’s not about his island, his wealth or even his goatee (mainly as my own facial hair will never look as relaxed and trendy but anyway) – I admire him for his passion. His dedication to his businesses, even when they’re not successful (remember when he admitted crying after selling Virgin Records), is admirable and his dedication to customer service is equally so.
When he started Virgin Atlantic over 30 years ago, he had a single, second-hand Boeing 747 and he was competing against brands with 400 planes in their fleet. And we all know where that business is today. Do you know what he puts it down to? Customer service. That customer service is delivered with leading technologies and efficient processes, but most importantly it is delivered by people who share Branson’s passion and care for their customers.
I do at this point want to say something about the Virgin Brand. Do I believe Virgin is the best brand in the world? No. My point is simply that if brands put as much effort as Virgin often do into their own customer focus – I would bet good money that they would be more successful than they are today.
I know what you’re thinking – people with passion and drive are not only difficult to find; but equally difficult to keep. But really – that is the only thing that matters. If everyone was focused on finding the right people, everything else should fall into place. Those ‘right’ people are the ones that can get everyone in the business, from the CEO through to the cleaners, to understand why putting the customer at the heart of every decision, action and idea, is imperative for business success.
No small feat
Those people have a giant mountain to climb. Not only do they need to win the hearts and minds of everyone internally to align around the customer; but they also need to analyse every process and review technologies to see what is and isn’t delivering value for the customer. Again, I can guess what you’re thinking:
- I’m not a CEO – Branson can make any change he wants (his business)
- I’m only one person and I have day job
- My business is too big; we’re global, multi-language, and run in silos
Well yes, you are probably not Richard Branson (just in case you are – Richard, huge fan, and would love to join you on Necker Island, my mobile number is 07469150089), you do have a day job and you probably don’t have access to the majority of the people within your business. But, it’s still no excuse.
- Understand the value that your brand brings to your customers
- Are driven and passionate about what you do and stand for
- Make decisions based on what you think is right for the customer
… then you are the person in your business that needs to lead this change!
I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people who themselves have lead and achieved the change at their businesses; and I always want to meet more. I would also love to support anyone who wants to make this change.
If you do want to want to speak with me about this or share some ideas about the first steps, then please do get in touch.
Thanks for reading,