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10 STEPS TO BECOMING CUSTOMER DRIVEN
How to build a company that will keep those
customers you worked so hard and spent so much money to get
are only three ways to grow a business: acquire new customers, sell
more to existing customers or keep your existing customers for longer.
In a crowded
and competitive market like ours, the strategy that makes the most
sense is customer retention. Indeed, the aim in all businesses should
be to keep
your profitable customers with you for a very long period of time.
The best way of ensuring your customers stay with you for the long
haul is to become
This talk will show you how to build a company that will keep those customers
you worked so hard and spent so much money to get.
|"As a Franchisee attending our recent conference
I would like to pass on my compliments to you for your excellent presentation.
I know that all the brokers here at the Hamilton Office were also impressed.
Becoming customer driven, making your customers the centre
of your universe, must become the driving force behind your business. Many
managers dream of leading customer driven companies but few do. Mostly that
is because they lack a plan, a road map that will show them how to do it. Here
are 10 steps for becoming a customer driven company.
Step 1 is
to make sure everyone understands why customer
retention is Number 1. Without this common
understanding your staff will not understand
why keeping your existing customers is crucial
to your business success and why, therefore,
your organisation must become customer driven.
It is particularly important that all senior
managers and team leaders understand how
important it is to keep your existing customers,
and are committed to the business strategy
of first retaining customers, and then increasing
the range of products and services you sell
to them. So many companies talk about retaining
customers but in their day-to-day activities
focus on acquisition.
2 is to create the right culture.
Your company culture reflects the kind
of company you want to run, what your
organisation stands for, and the kind
of experience you want to create for
both your customers and your staff.
You cannot expect that people will
understand the importance of putting
customers first, of being committed
to delivering the solutions customers
need, of learning as much as they can
about their customers and of using
this information to change the way
they run their part of the business,
all by themselves. You must create
a customer driven culture where the
right behaviours are taught and rewarded,
and the wrong behaviours are eliminated.
Step 2 also involves becoming an effective
leader, since this is the only way
you can develop the right culture.
Effective leadership must come not
just from the CEO, but from any one
in a position of responsibility. Leaders
are made, not born and there are a
number of things you can learn to do
to develop an effective leadership
3 in becoming customer driven
is to sell what your customers are
buying. Because your customers do not
want your products and services but
rather the value they can extract from
them, you must make creating superior
customer value the main focus of your
business. Successful businesses understand
the value their customers are seeking.
They also know that value equals benefits
minus costs and they use this equation
to drive their business because they
know their customers use it to evaluate
whether they should continue to do
business with them. This means making
your customers the centre of your universe
and accepting that the only point of
view that really matters is your customerís.
What are their goals and dreams? Which
obstacles stand in their way? How can
you make them successful? And most
importantly, what is it that you have
that they want so badly they are happy
to pay for it? These are the things
your customers will value. These are
the products and services that will
|"Would just like to say what an awesome speaker Dr
Brooks was. I got so much out of his presentation and the People First
workshop so thanks Margaret for providing that for us and well done to
you and your teams. Cheers"
Mererina Murray, Kaitakawaenga Maori, Tauranga District Council
Step 4 You cannot create value for
your customers by sitting on the sidelines. Step 4 describes how you must
enter your customerís world. The aim must be not to satisfy your customer,
but to make them successful. To do this you must get to know your customers.
You also need to train your staff to think like your customers and to see
the world through your customers eyes. Asking them questions is a good way
of getting to know your customers. Most importantly, each team should set
service standards and then monitor their performance against those standards.
This puts a hard edge on being customer driven.
5 With a culture that focuses
on customer retention and creating
superior customer value, and with an
understanding of your customerís world,
you are now in a position to focus
on Step 5, which is to operate effective
and efficient processes. Inefficient
processes cause customers to be disappointed
and create waste. Both of these are
very expensive for your company. Many
companies fail to deliver the service
they promise because their processes
are not effective or efficient. Many
others try to lower their operating
costs by slashing budgets and staff
numbers while running inefficient processes
that produce large amounts of waste.
6 Processes can not operate
themselves, of course. It takes people
to make it happen. Therefore, Step
6 in becoming customer driven, is to get
the right people doing the right things.
Who should you be recruiting? How should
you handle them once you have hired
them? What is the best way of maximising
their performance? The way an organisation
is structured will have a great bearing
on how well people do the right things
- even if they are the right people
to begin with. Organise people into
mini business units. If you want to
turn employees into business people,
the best way to do that is to put them
in charge of their own little businesses
within the framework of your company.
And then hold them accountable for
7 to becoming customer driven
is to create an AWESOME customer experience.
This step outlines the minimum you
must provide in the way of customer
care, and it is really the first step
in making it happen. It is the change
that your customers will notice first.
In spite of your best efforts, things
will sometimes go wrong. The key to
keeping your customers when the gremlins
strike is to establish a recovery process
which all staff are trained to use.
Without the proper training, people
will react instinctively to protect
themselves rather than to look after
your customers. With an AWESOME customer
experience and a recovery process as
a foundation, and with the infrastructure
provided in Steps 1 to 9 in place,
you will keep your customers for longer
- which you may as well do since you
put a lot of time, effort and money
into getting them in the first place.
| "Thank you for your talk today. Many people have
commented to me on how much they enjoyed it. It is truly inspiring to hear
someone so passionate about customer service."
Margaret Batchelar, Manager, Customer Services, Tauranga City Council.
Step 8 is to manage
your relationships with your key customers. You have gone to a lot of work
to capture your customerís attention and to create a great experience for them
so it would make good sense to have an on-going relationship with them. The
stronger the relationship, the better the chances they will continue placing
their business in your hands. As you know from your personal life, relationships
take a lot of work to build and even more work to maintain. This step outlines
the stages relationships go through and what your company can do to develop
a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with your key customers.
9 Because your customersí expectations
are always increasing, and because
your competitors are always improving,
Step 9 is to strive continually to
find a better way. Improvement is not
optional if you want to stay in business.
The best approach to finding a better
way is to listen to your customers,
review the data from your processes
and then use a formal problem solving
method. Make sure you involve your
staff. If they work as a team, they
will be able to use their expertise
to find new and better ways of doing
things. Your job is to create the environment
where continuous improvement and innovation
can happen. A structured project management
approach will pay the biggest dividends.
10 Of course, all of this is
not going to happen unless you do some
things differently. Step 10 is change!
Your job is to both lead and manage
the change process, for that is what
it is, a process. If you follow the
basic principles for managing change
outlined in this step, you can transform
your company into a customer driven
one. Your customers, your staff and
your companyís shareholders will all
see the benefits as a result.