Who drives the purpose for you doing business?
Who are the key members of your team that sit at the centre of all you do?
Perhaps your mind is thinking of the leadership team, your salesforce, key support staff, or the logistic magicians who make the impossible happen.
Well, what if I told you that it is none of the above.
That the only reason your business exists is for a single purpose and that purpose is to meet the needs of your customers, without them you may as well pack up and head home – as they are the reason for your organisations very existence.
Given the critical role that customers play, it is staggering that new research suggests that a CEO of an organisation spends on average only 3% of their time engaging directly with customers.
Yes, a CEO must wear many hats and oversee the entire operation, but given their lack of interaction with their most key market segment, they are relying heavily on the role of others to get the critical task of keeping their customers happy.
With a world in a precarious state as we step into an economic crisis fuelled by government spending, growing debt, global instability, a supply chain crisis and a global worker shortage that has left the world teetering on the brink of a global recession – as a leader of your business it is time to quickly reframe and refocus the values and essence of why you are doing business.
As a rule, your customers are not happy, with consumer indexes in the US suggesting that customer satisfaction is at its lowest level in two decades, whilst in Australia 40% of Aussies believe that customer has worsened since Covid struck.
As a business leader, if the above facts around your unhappy clients has not rattled your cage, then let this sink in, your employees are customers in your business as well, with research telling us that they are not happy at all.
Your customers, both internal and external play a critical role in the success of your business, they will either trumpet how fantastic or fabulous your organisation is, or they will poison the well and deter others from entering your world.
Which is why I find it interesting that when asked the question around ‘what are the values of their business’ the common response I receive from business leaders often uses the words integrity, trust, diversity, investment in our people, culture, environment etc… etc…
Important values, yes, but there is a critical element missing that needs to sit at the heart of businesses, and that is our commitment to our customers, both internal and external.
Your customers are without question the most important people connected to your business, they are the fuel for the company’s bottom line and without them, you have no business.
This sounds simple and obvious, yet somehow in our journey into the 21st century many businesses seem to have forgotten what should be the basic tenant of every business – ‘our customers come first.’
This is a mantra that must echo throughout the business and be ringing in the minds of all, from staff, sales, customer service, through to operations – your goal must be to deliver for your customer – always!
Now when I say deliver, I am not talking only on the product, but the emotional connection between the customer and your business.
We want people to do business with us because they love doing business with us and we love them in return. This same principal applies to your employees, we do not want people working for us because of the pay check, we want them working for us because they love working for us and we love them in return for what they contribute.
That is why when I am invited to step in and help a place of business to lift sluggish sales and poor growth, the first thing I look to identify is whether this is somewhere I would love to work, somewhere I would love to do business with – often I have found the answer to that question to be ‘no.’
It is the lack of love that sits at the heart of the issue, with the focus on the customer replaced by internalised thinking of what we do, how we work together, the issues we face inside our organisation – not the customer.
This runs throughout all departments, in every corner of the organisation. There is no love for the customer, no love for the staff and no love for the business.
Which is why every business leader needs to ask themselves ‘do our customers love us,’ ‘do our employees love coming to work.’ If you do not know the answer, or you need to ask someone to find out, well you have some work to you.
Which means it is time to roll your sleeves up and get on the floor, to get a feel for what is happening in your business, how your employees are interacting with each other and how they are interacting with your customers.
Ask yourself, ‘when was the last time you made a call to those who use your products or service,’ not to close a deal, but simply to ask them ‘how they are’ and whether ‘they enjoyed their experience with your business.’
Yes, we all get those requests for ratings after a customer service experience and they hold some insights, but a call from the CEO or a senior member of the team who cares about whether their needs are being met, asking if there is more that we could have done or can do in the future – now you are talking impact.
Whilst businesses around the world are moving to automation, what the research keeps telling us is that customers want to deal with people, whether that is in person or on the phone – you may love the efficiency of your chatbots, but keep in mind that your customers prefer dealing with people.
The reality is that direct contact is the best way to show how much you love those who choose your brand, product or service.
Let’s not forget your employees in this conversation, your employees want to feel valued, appreciated, heard and have a sense of purpose at work.
Their work is not separate to their life, it is in fact a huge part of their life. Somewhere they want to feel proud, to feel loved, and when they do, they will share that love with your customers, their fellow employees and everyone they meet.
Get that feeling of love for your employees and customers running through your business and no matter the difficulties in the world around you, your business will thrive.
Written by Ingrid Maynard.
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