A Customer-Focused Leadership Team
Establishing a customer-focused culture begins and ends with a very specific and superior type of leadership. First, you need to hire team leaders who have strong foundations in management expertise, individuals who have skills and “tricks” to maximize the talents of their teams. Second, these leaders must know how to lead by example, and understand that everything they say and do becomes a model for their employees. Third, your team of leaders must be able to reinforce and reward success, particularly as it relates to supporting a positive, productive customer-focused culture.
Interestingly, people often believe it’s up to the workers on the frontlines of customer service to set the tone of a customer-focused culture. But that’s a serious misunderstanding. It’s you, and the members of your leadership team, who are working behind the scenes, navigating operations, and delivering commands. Those are the people who should do the most to establish and foster a customer-focused environment.
Keep these three points in mind:
Choose leaders who truly cherish customers.
A+ leaders must have this characteristic built into their value system. They must truly believe that the customer’s opinions, wants, wishes, and needs are at the heart of your company’s success. Research a prospective lead’s track record for supporting customers in the past. How have these candidates demonstrated that they respect value in their problem solving and decision making? Your leaders must genuinely care about people to the extent that they can put their own feelings, thoughts, and personal issues aside and really understand what customers need and want.
Select a leadership team that can celebrate success.
When customer-focused goals are accomplished, your leadership needs to notice! Emphasize what’s right, working or delivering results. Drawing attention to success usually leads to more success, and it also demonstrates how specific activities and behaviors are directly tied to goals, influence change and drive customer loyalty. A great leadership team understands why it’s important to recognize and reward success, and it will use this as a tool to jumpstart and maintain goal-achievement. When you’re creating a leadership team, look for individuals who know how to use recognition and rewards to inspire even more achievements.
Be a key sponsor.
If you don’t do what you’re asking others to do, the effort is going to fail. In fact, lack of sponsorship is the number-one reason why projects, programs, and agendas don’t succeed. Asking your team to be customer-focused? Then you’ve got to be customer-focused! Remember, you lead a team by concentrating on what you say (Express), do (Model) and honor (Reinforce). When you talk at a meeting, or send written emails to your team or direct reports, you’ve got to Express your commitment to a customer-focused culture in your communications. You must also set a good example, or Model those behaviors, by acting and interacting with customers according to your customer-focused values. As the saying goes, you must “eat your own cooking,” or you will lose credibility. Finally, and most importantly, to sponsor a customer-focused culture, you must Reinforce and strengthen it by setting expectations for success, and creating awards and recognition aligned to those expectations.