Are You Customer-Focused or…?

Some organizations get it! They know how to hire for it, train for it and deliver it. Different companies claim to give a unique customer experience, but in reality, they are grounded in an operations mentality with rules and policies that yield little flexibility, preventing them from being just average or satisfactory. Here are some observations of the variations between customer-focused companies versus operations-focused companies:

Empowerment: A customer-focused organization empowers employees to make decisions that are for the benefit of the customer. They have guidelines versus rules and take the approach that if it isn’t illegal, immoral, won’t bankrupt the company, and won’t harm the company’s reputation, then consider doing it to take care of the customer. The operations-focused company requires a manager’s approval for anything that is outside of their policies or typical way of doing business.

Hiring: A customer-focused company hires people who fit the culture, which means they have the personality and core-values that align with the company’s vision and mission. Certain jobs may require certain skills, but skill alone won’t get the applicant hired. An operations-focused company will hire for skill, filling a position with technical strengths. The applicant’s personality may or may not fit with the corporate culture.

Training: A customer-focused company spends time and money training for soft skills such as relationship building, listening skills and customer service. The company recognizes that it takes both, technical and soft skills, to break away from being average. The operations-focused company spends most of their training dollars and time on technical skills and product knowledge.

Leadership: The leaders of a customer-focused company set the vision and mission of the culture, and then they lead by example. They don’t hide their failures and they celebrate success. The leaders of an operations-focused company set the vision and mission of the culture, but sometimes will have the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach. Sometimes their behavior is incongruent with what they want to achieve, often leaving the employees confused and less than engaged.

People First: The customer-focused company knows the importance of putting people first – specifically employees. They develop a culture of happy, engaged and fulfilled employees who ultimately deliver a better customer experience. Customers like this and continue to come back. An operations-focused company develops a culture focused on systems, procedures and the bottom line. While this is important to any company’s success, they miss the culture part of the equation.

Customer Experience: The customer-focused company looks at customer experience as a philosophy to be embraced by every employee of the company, recognizing that there are both external and internal customers. The operations-focused company sees customer service as a department.

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