Author: Shellina Damji
In an industry where the pace of change is relentless, how do you create a service culture that builds customer loyalty? Organizational culture is the ‘personality’ of an organization manifested as the behaviors, attributes, and artifacts of its members. It shapes personal and group values and attitudes including perceptions about what works and what doesn’t, what is helpful and what is not, what makes sense and what does not.
These are the seven essential constructs for building a customer-focused culture.
1. Customer-Focused Strategy: A customer-focused vision defines what you want your organization to be and where you want it to be within a speci?ed time period. Strategy addresses the assumptions, beliefs and values of your organization as well as the products/services you will and will not offer and the customers you will not serve. Your vision addresses competitive advantage, core competencies and financial expectations.
2. Characteristics: The characteristics of your culture must align with your vision. Identify what characteristics you want to emphasize and to what degree. For example, do you want to emphasize quality or cost and to what degree? Do you want to emphasize tactics or strategy and to what degree? If you want to win by providing a world-class customer service and support organization, your characteristics must be customer-focused.
3. Commander and Chief: How does your leadership support your customer-focus? The personalities, biases, and styles of your organization’s leaders become entangled in its culture. As employees and customers learn about your leaders, they begin adapting their characteristics.
4. Commitment: An organization’s culture reflects how strongly the people in the organization believe in its basic precepts and how faithfully they carry them out. Without a strong belief in and acceptance of customer-focused goals and values, your strategy will fall short. Commitment ignites action and fosters motivation.
5. Communication: Acting as a catalyst, communication is key to implementing a customer-focused vision. It is not merely words or pictures; it includes facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, proximity, body language, and even the timing and setting in which the communication occurs.
6. Competency: When your service organization is culturally competent in its customer focus, you establish positive helping relationships, engage the customer, and improve the quality of services. Competency is achieved by integrating customer-focused knowledge, skills, beliefs, and values into speci?c practices and policies.
7. Consequence: Recognizing and rewarding good performance increases motivation and creates a high-performing environment. For employees, consequences aren’t only formal (monetary bene?ts, time off, promotion, company car). They are part of daily interactions (a pat on the back, a thank-you, prestigious or challenging assignments, public recognition). Management as well as peers, customers, and subordinates can be powerful sources of consequences.
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Author Shellina Damji is a Senior Consultant at Kepner-Tregoe, Inc. Her primary focus is on strategy formulation and implementation, the facilitation and delivery of critical thinking skills, and analysis of organizational processes.