What does it mean to be customer obsessed?
Like all things in life we have our own perception as to what works and what doesn’t. Being client obsessed is no different but whatever your thoughts there are key themes that successful people follow which are:
- starting with the customer (problem / need) and then work backwards
- earn and keep customer trust
- keep an eye on their competitors
I was recently out for a local ‘business’ lunch. It was at a lovely English pub and I was fortunate to be sat right next to a roaring open fire on a cold, but sunny winters day. The waitress came to the table not once but twice as the conversation seemed to be far more important than selecting what to eat.
When scanning through the menu I noticed there were two options for me neither which was totally satisfactory. I had a discussion with the waitress who was happy to discuss my wishes with the chef and make a slight change to one of the dishes published to suit my palate.
She went away to ask the chef a question and then came back to confirm what had happened. The waitress returned with a message saying the chef was concerned for a lack of sauce and we agreed a way forward to suit my needs. I had trust in the team that they would deliver.
As a recipient or customer, I felt my requirement had been listened to, the options had been adjusted to suit my needs and as the waitress / chef and I communicated there was an element of trust that had been built up. We were then asked regularly about what we had and whether any thing could be done.
With the increasing number of food houses being shut down (Jamie Oliver and B to name but a few) the ever increasing need to meet the customer needs and the transparency of reviews in the internet there is no hiding. This is the same for everyone..
How can you apply this in learning and change management?
“Time is a competitor to doing what is right and not what is easy”
Starting with the customer and working backwards
We often see consultants or L & D people come in do a ‘quick’ stakeholder assessment of what is happening through interviews and focus groups and then come up with a perspective that is shared and a plan is agreed.
In other cases we hear of and see managers and leaders come to those responsible for learning and performance development in the business being told what is needed. In both instances, you get the feeling that these are conscious choices to suit the need of the moment to get a result and a plan of action and not getting to grips of what is the real challenge that needs working on.
In my experience it is so important to walk in the shoes of the customers. If that means getting to work three hours earlier to see the shift start, how communication happens and the looking at the opportunities to learn and share through the working day that is time well spent (as long as you take the lessons and use them). The pressure of time and resources should not exclude you going the extra mile.
Also I regularly see with individual and team coaching that what is presented at the start and can be the agreed goal / contract actually is only sketching at the surface.
It is only through great coaching you get to the ‘heart of the matter’ and you can then build the what next from there.
I challenge you to ask yourself the question:
Have I answered the customer performance, productivity and or prosperity (wellbeing) question by my recommendations or actions?
With the eagerness of suppliers to sell and sponsors to meet a need there can be a tendency to jump to conclusions too quickly as the sales and marketers draw people in and the detail is glossed over.
Earn and keep customer trust
Trust is becoming an increasingly important. As someone recently described trust as the new green.
Trust is built through reliability, meet the needs of the customer not your perceived need, constantly improving the service and in the case of L & D following up with nuggets of knowledge and nudges to ensure people dont forget their new knowledge and so its transposed into a new or adapted behaviour.
Keep an eye on your competitors
Just because you might sit in a corporate L & D department doesnt mean you are not exempt from competition. People are asking other departments in the business to facilitate a learning event that gives them the edge to be successful. Events go under the radar of the HQ and people like sales bring in sales enablement people rather than call on L & D.
Listen and learn about the great things are happening and make sure you are an added value part of the chain of success
So what next?
Take the time to establish what the requirement is and dont assume.
There is a saying in military not to form a decision before you have gone through the planning cycle. Its not that it cant be done quickly its just if you dont go through the planning cycle you could miss something that can have an impact on the outcome and the way you achieve it.
Having a competitive edge is relevant for a professional, manager and leader. Having a successful journey is built on building trust with the customer through living and working out their need not what you perceive it to be.
Lizzie Rhodes James is a Performance Coach and Facilitator who specialises in helping teams and individuals exceed their potential at work and in life. Having successfully transitioned from a successful Army career into the Corporate world, Lizzie brings an exceptional and distinctive blend of discipline, focus and agility into her practice. Lizzie is also passionate about health and wellness, and adds a depth of thinking to align body and mind, enhancing overall performance and encouraging clients to transcend their limits.
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