You know that as business leaders, it’s best to be prepared for anything. With a seismic customer shift in progress, it would be
naive to believe customers will return and behave the same way when things return to ‘normal’. Whatever normal is these days.
Business leaders need to be proactive, prepare for an economic downturn, changing customer needs, and take advantage when their
competitors are not responsive. A business that lacks a focused intention to meet customer needs will lose market share, revenue
opportunities and may even fail.
The winners will be the customer-focused, responsive, proactive, experienced-based businesses led by leaders who “care” about their
customers and the people who make up their business. They are focused on what actions to take to make a difference.
They believe that being customer-focused is not just a pretty picture on the wall of the company’s mission statement and goals. An
active day-to-day commitment to meeting customer needs must be an integrated part of the operational culture.
We call this ‘Customer Culture.’
We don’t mean a vague concept or a marketing buzzword. Customer culture is hard work that requires you to know your customer from the inside out, including their needs, motivations, and value—an intentional focus on your customer that goes beyond market research or
product development of new features.
To understand what is important, we compiled this list of the five best questions to ask your team to gauge their customer culture. You
will identify those who understand the importance of individual customer experience and those who can lead by example and learn from
Before we dive into our list, let’s ask the critical question. Why is a customer culture so important?
A Harvard Business Review article suggested that “Companies have been trying to adopt customer centricity for nearly 20 years now. Yet only 14% of marketers say their company focuses on customer-centricity.”
So what’s the point? Twenty years and only 14% do it?
Customer Culture is highly correlated to growth and profit. There is demonstrable research showing that companies with a positive
customer culture create the fastest business growth. Companies with a positive customer culture experience higher satisfaction across
their customers, resulting in increased word-of-mouth and advocacy.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, companies with a negative customer culture have a 70% chance of failing within the next
Customers don’t like to be used, abused, or taken for granted. They don’t appreciate rudeness, incompetence, or lousy customer service.
With this idea in mind, why not check in with your people to make sure they understand the importance of customer culture and feel
enabled to meet customer needs?
So let’s go through the five best questions to ask your team:
Question 1: Are the leaders of your business aligned to a customer-driven culture?
Scary question. What happens if the majority of your people answer no? Understanding their belief regarding leaders’ strategic direction
and actions supporting day-to-day customer needs can be a game-changer.
A positive response to this question will demonstrate that the team believes leaders are actively working to align the business towards
a customer-centric culture. Yet if the answer is generally poor, it indicates a significant gap in leadership focus compared to
Question 2: Do you have enough resources to be customer capable in your role?
A customer-enabled team. This question opens up doors to a variety of possibilities. Does your team have the time or responsibility to
meet customer needs at the point of contact? Are they forced to escalate issues, transferring them to alternative teams, or worse, say, “I can’t help you”?
An enabled culture can act at the moment to meet customer needs and demonstrate exceptional service standards. Poor processes, lack of
resources, and misaligned goals are not conducive to an outstanding customer experience.
Question 3: Are your products or services aligned to customer needs?
This can be a game-changer. But it could open a can of worms. Are the staff not trained on communicating the benefits of the product or
services to meet customers’ needs? Or are the customers responding poorly to their product or service experience?
Whatever the reason, there is a service problem that needs to be rectified immediately.
Question 4: Does your department deliver fair outcomes for your customers?
Hand in hand with question 3. Do your staff value the service or products being delivered are of value to the customers? This can help
identify unmet customer needs and also open up an opportunity to improve training standards.
Separately the outcomes may infer the experience a customer has when making a complaint. IF a customer does not have a positive
experience when making a complaint, you could lose them forever.
Customer complaints should be a valued opportunity when engaging customers. You can understand the factors undermining the customer
experience, identify service breaks, and minimise customer churn events.
To dive deeper, we recommend reviewing our recent article on the blessing of customer complaints.
Question 5: Does your department have an established Customer Culture?
Last but not least, ask them the most blatant question. Do your team believe that your organization has an established customer culture?
The results from this question can act as an internal guide to understand what proportion of people feel more effort is needed to shift
the culture to be more focused on customers.
Now, why not take a moment and conduct your introspective assessment on these questions and 13 others that relate to how well your
operation is handling customers.
Our free Customer Data Culture TestFlight assessment is available for you to consider these questions and review how you believe your business is listening to customer needs, unlocking customer understanding and behaviour, and finally, communicate in a way that helps improve customer engagement.
Investing effort in understanding how well your organisation is primed to meet and exceed customer needs will set your business apart
from competitors who hesitate, frustrate, and wait for customers to fit back in a predefined paradigm that expect will return after this
global shift and uncertainty.