“Why am I here?”
When you create a company or rise up through the ranks of one, there can be a temptation to lead from a traditional, hierarchical stance. After all, you’re the leader and what you say goes.
A better approach is to think of your primary role as serving those who work in your company, your customers, and your community.
Your organization will be positioned for success if your leadership teams understand that they are coming to work to enable, support, and serve your employees, and if your employees understand that everyone’s job is to best serve the customer. From when they walk through the door until they leave, anyone and everyone should be thinking about how to identify and solve problems for the customer, so that those customers paying everyone’s bills have the best experience possible and have their problems solved in a way that stands out from the other companies in your market.
Everyone reports to the customer
Without fail, almost every wildly successful company has one thing in common:
Every leader, manager, and employee within the company understands that they work for the customer.
Jeff Bezos was once asked if he could tell whether a company was going to be successful or not early on, to which he replied “yes, usually.” He went on to explain that one of the main criteria he used to judge the potential for success a company had (or did not have) was its mentality and culture. “If the leaders of the business are customer-centric in thinking, and everyone in the building believes that their main job is to make the customer’s life better, then they have a real shot at realizing their full success potential.” This is a major shift that occurred in the 21st century.
As a leader, it is your job to set the tone for the organization and what success means within the organization. If you are focused on what is best for yourself, or the business, then your company will eventually be outpaced by a more nimble team that is able to create a better solution for the customer than what you provide.
The necessary, and often painful, decision you as the leader must make to innovate, will be hampered by the potential for discomfort and inconvenience it will cause in the short term. Think about the hassle that comes with creating new partnerships and laying a cultural infrastructure and presence in order to expand to new markets the right way. Whether investing earnings back into R+D for new flavors for an evolving offering or finding ways to disrupt yourself (before someone else does), change is rarely convenient. If your teams understand their purpose, they will take pride in the challenge versus being aggravated by the additions to their plate or simply not doing it.
Regardless of what your evolution looks like, your company has a higher likelihood for success if you instill a culture that focuses on
- Constantly making the customer experience better
- Finding new ways to add to your customer’s life in a meaningful way
- Focusing on making your customer’s life easier
This brings us to the next important step:
As a company, you should be having constant conversations with your customers
Although it may sound tedious, expensive, or inefficient, a good leader must keep in mind that just as the world around us is constantly changing, so too are the customers we serve. Our customers are constantly reacting to the changing environment they face, both personally and professionally. This means their priorities can change, their resources can change, their “why” can change, and their fears and concerns can change. Everyone in your organization must be in touch with your customers.
If you are looking to have a deeper relationship with your customers beyond pricing and convenience, then you must not just understand who they were – you have to understand who they are today and be in-tune enough to predict who they will be tomorrow. Emotional relationships require connection, and connection requires communication and action.
To discuss ways that you can center your organization around the customer, and shift processes and management to reflect a servant-leadership approach, reach out to us at Celerity Coaching.