Putting Customers First In Planning

jeannebliss Issue 08 - Nov/Dec 2013 Leave a Comment

In the third and final part of this series, Jeanne Bliss elaborates on the importance of accountability in planning.

By Jeanne Bliss

Editor’s Note: In conclusion to our series, CustomerBliss Founder and Consultant Jeanne Bliss conveys the importance of decision-making and accountability when it comes to keeping customers happy. Having the support of customers—and employees too!—is essential to growth, and these tips help get everyone on board with a customer-centric plan. Bliss shares her final three tips below.

8. Make employee selection one of your most important decisions. Select your employees as you would customers: for lifelong value. At Chick-fil-A, operators and team members are chosen based on their values; ability to build, grow and sustain partnerships in all areas of their lives; and then their technical skills. As a result, Chick-fil-A has operator turnover of just 5 percent, and the fast-food chain just achieved 43 years of consecutive sales growth.

9. Proactively solve mistakes when they occur. When mistakes happen (and they will), get out in front of customers and admit the flaw; then make peace with your customers. Southwest Airlines reviews every flight every day to know when delays interrupted their customers’ lives, whether it was the airline’s fault or not. The company contacts customers to explain what happened and, when warranted, sends out LUV bucks for a future flight. Being proactive with those bucks earned Southwest a net revenue increase of $1.9 million in 2011.

10. Accept the order and the accountability. In a world where customers are use social channels as a megaphone to broadcast the experience you’re delivering, invest in reliability. Don’t make the customer wonder where the order is, how long until it arrives or what happens when it backorders. If a customer can’t tell another customer what they get from you, how they get it or how it feels when they receive it, then you don’t have a story to tell—or at least one you want heard. Investing in reliability earns you the right to grow.

Companies that grow do so because their customers and employees are an army of advocates. They earn the right to their customers’ raves, and grow because they deliberately make decisions that moved their operations in the direction of their customers and employees. Don’t lose another year of opportunity by letting annual planning pass by without considering these important commitments.

Jeanne 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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