Putting the Customer First – Jeanne Bliss, CustomerBliss

jeannebliss Issue 06 - July/ Aug 2013 Leave a Comment

Part one of this series, Jeanne Bliss, founder of CustomerBliss, explains how to unite your organization in customer focused annual planning.

From the Editors:  In the next few issues, we are bringing you tips by Jeanne Bliss, CustomerBliss founder and consultant , focused on enhancing customer growth within your business.  In this three-part series, Bliss will explain the importance of planning 

Annual planning is the Achilles heel of driving a united customer culture.  Every silo or department determines how much money they have to spend…then each creates their individual plans and correlating score cards.  Activities frequently focused only on the money – not on the behavior of the organization and what they want to stand for and show up as in the marketplace – based on their decisions and actions.

As you plan your annual planning cycle, here are ten actions that business leaders and their organizations should focus on first – before the financial planning cycle – to increase customer loyalty and drive profitable business growth.  And many don’t cost a thing but your commitment and leadership alignment on messaging and execution.

1. Believe in the integrity of your customers. The majority of business policies and rules are created to protect business from the minority of customers. Be bold, like Connecticut Griffin Hospital, which began sharing hospital records with patients and saw claims against the hospital drop by more than 43 percent. Take a leap of faith and believe that trust is reciprocated by customers when they feel that you trust them. Find one rule or policy to relax and watch what happens.

2. Invest in employee trust. Show your employees that you believe in them. Beloved company Wegmans invests in its employees by training them in the skills that remove rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that pen employees in. This enables Wegmans to throw away the rule book and live by this one edict: “No customer goes away unhappy.” As a result, its margins are higher and profitability more steady because the grocer’s turnover is only 7 percent of employees versus the average in its industry of 19 percent employee turnover.

3. Practice democratic decision making. Give good ideas a chance to prosper no matter where they come from in terms of your organizational chart. Innovation and marketplace differentiation come when employees are respected as part of achieving a mission greater than their set of tasks, and when their voice counts. W.L. Gore has become a $2.7 billion dollar company, and earned a place on Fortune magazine’s best companies to work for list since its inception because of how the company unleashes its employees’ spirit and ideas.

jeanne2013Jeanne Bliss spent 25 years reporting to the Presidents of Lands’ End, Allstate, Mazda, Coldwell Banker and Microsoft Corporations leading customer experience as their Chief Customer Officer.  Today she runs CustomerBliss  a consulting firm to help executive teams unite their actions to drive customer growth.  She is the co-founder of the Customer Experience Professional’s Association.  Her two best-selling books are “Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to passionate Action” and “ I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in  Good Times and Bad.”

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