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The Effective Executive – Episode 34 – The Importance of Building a Customer Creed
Customer Creed – How to Build
Neuroscience in Building the Customer Creed
The Executive’s Job
[00:00:08] This is the 34th episode of the effective executive podcast and YouTube channel. And this week, I wanted to cover. How to build a customer creed or the art of building a customer creed and let’s first of all define that. It’s in my executive education program and what I built is something called a customer creed section in that training. And let’s establish a definition for what a creed is. It’s a set of beliefs and aims that guide someone’s actions. So just like in an organization, you might have values that of things that are important to your organization, might be safety, might be integrity, and might be any of a number of things. This is along the same line, but it’s different from the standpoint of when you’re developing a customer creed, you’re actually listening to your customer and developing a creed from what customers are telling you is either right or wrong with your particular system and. This is a process of discovery, in other words, you can’t just get a list of things that other organizations have used that has to be unique to your organization. It’s your system. It’s your unique uniqueness. It’s your authenticity for your particular organization, the things that are going to set you apart as someone provisioning a service or a product to a group of customers. And each system is going to be a little bit different. That’s why I don’t come up with a prescribed list of things for you to check off and say, OK, here’s what’s important to all customers.
[00:02:19] Now, it’s more nuanced than that. It’s more detailed. It’s more being able to listen to the customer and understand what what’s going on and what’s important to them about your service. So. So how do we find out what’s important to a customer?
[00:02:43] Well, let me give you a few examples of what you might find and let’s just take a really simple type of organization or organization is really simple. But when I think that everyone can relate to is in fact, company when they call up. And this this may be some universal truths, but they don’t want to repeat themselves, customers don’t want to have to explain to you what the problem is and then talk to attack and explain what the problem is or get incomplete information and have to call back. They just don’t like to repeat themselves, especially in the HVAC industry. They just want their problem fixed. Now, one other thing that happens in the industry that’s unique to them is that customers really want it fixed now. So in other words, if you’re cold or too hot or whatever, one of their demands is that, you know, I need you to come out here now. Now, some companies, some companies will will kind of keep you on a string and keep saying, you know, we’ll be there as soon as we can and that type of thing. And knowing that it may be five or six hours before a technician would be able to make your house and get your heat or air conditioning working again.
[00:04:17] And this is one of the failings, I think, of the fact industry is at some point, you know, when demand is high, when all of a sudden you get that cold snap or, you know, the heat starts coming on and the air conditioners are turned on and they fall apart. I think a lot of companies that I’ve worked with try to keep their customers strung along so that they can get to them eventually so they can get the revenue. But I found that that is probably not a good thing from a customer standpoint because they want it fixed. Now, you might say, look, it’s going to be it could be up to six hours. You know, you might be better off trying to contact someone else, but we’d love to have your business if you can wait that long. Great. Now, the customer can make an informed choice about whether they want to hang on and wait or or whatever. So these are things that are unique to the industry. Now, another thing that that might come up are and it has to do I have a lot of this based in neuroscience, too, in my executive education program, but just kind of give you a taste of it. It’s how you build expectations in people’s minds. And in other words, if you’ve advertised something or you’ve promised something over the phone, either implied or, you know, overtly, you know, building an expectation in a customer and you don’t meet that expectation, it is far worse of a situation, are going to hurt your company for a long period of time than if you did something really fantastic for maybe the last five times.
[00:06:05] They’ll remember that. And just from a neuroscience standpoint, we tend to remember the bad experiences over the the good experiences. One other thing tied to neuroscience is clear future, which is do you know what’s going to happen next as a customer? Are you. Am I clear about when you’re going to be able to come over now, if you’ve sort of set the expectation in my mind that it might be up to six hours before I can get to your heat or your air conditioning and the customer says yes, then you’ve given them that opportunity to get an informed choice. And so they kind of have a clear future saying, well, OK, I’ve got to wait six hours now. If you go to seven or eight hours and there’s going to be a problem. So it’s setting those expectations and living up to them. And I know things come up. I know that maybe you couldn’t get into that six hour time frame, but you got to keep the customer apprized of what’s going on so that they can, you know, keep making an informed choice about whether they call somebody else or, you know, do something. You might even say that’s their obligation.
[00:07:14] They should call somebody else on their own. But, you know, everybody’s different. I would probably if my heat was out, I’m probably calling a bunch of different companies and I will be very upset if someone says I’ll be there in about an hour and they don’t show up either at all or five hours later. That’s that’s why you have to give customers clear futures so they can make an informed choice about what? About what they want to do, what’s best for them. So your organization’s customer creed needs to be unique to your customer. In other words. By listening to what they’re saying, you could go to a contact center or anywhere that your customer comes in to provision a service or complain about the service or opportunities to develop this customer creed, and you’re ultimately going will be able to add in things are going to create additional value. They don’t always have to be negative things of ways to keep to create additional value for customers that is important to them about your product or service. And as I mentioned before, it’s not a laundry list. It’s not a list of some generic items. You could just say, well, most companies do these types of things. This is where you need to really dig down into the detail in order to come up with your customer creed that’s unique to your customers. And ultimately, you can design the customer creed into your system, you know, you can do that by virtue of training, by the way, that you have your organization designed, that they’re going to be talking to one person.
[00:09:07] If that’s one thing that’s important to customers, which I found in just about every organization, they want to deal with one person. You can you can build that in. But it’s good. This is why. Building a organization that is friendly to customers is not an easy thing to do, because if you think about how am I going to get a contact center person or somebody that can answer all of a customer’s questions, and this is a learning process and it doesn’t just I can’t snap the finger. And I’ve had many executives say, well, just go ahead and, you know, speed it up. OK, so it doesn’t happen that way. This is something that the organization has to learn and do on its own in order to do it. It’s not something that I do. They have to do it. So the other thing is that that as you design your organization with the customer, create as is your customer, create, create is a dynamic, dynamic type of thing. It’s not static. It’s going to change over time. Your maybe your services change your product names or customer preferences change over a particular period of time. And this is one of the reasons why I don’t have executives design their own organization. They need the help of. It’s not just to help. They need to to have the front line customer facing people be the ones that make the changes.
[00:10:44] But they need to be familiar with what the changes are happening within the organization so executives can remove barriers from people that are customer facing. And so so because it’s dynamic, by virtue of having the people that are customer facing design their own system, you can create a very flexible type of system so that as the customer’s preferences and needs change or even the services that you’re offering change, there may be different types of expectations that a customer has. And you can react so much faster when you have a customer facing people designing their own system so they can redesign it on the fly and know what it is that you’re trying to to accomplish. So it becomes something that can absorb whatever the customer brings to bear. Now, I suggest in my education program that executives spend at least 10 percent of their time to develop or get an understanding of look by looking through what I call the customer lens of the customer. And this will allow you to build this customer creed or give you a sense of what needs to be in it and then involving the people that are customer facing. And but but as I mentioned, it’s very important that the people that are customer facing are the ones that are designing the system, developing the training, being able to change it as they need to be. And what you need to do as an executive is remove the barriers that are keeping a customer facing employee from provisioning a service or product to the customer’s needs.
[00:12:53] Now, one other comment I’m going to make on this, and I’d like to kind of put this little caveat in, which is this is not a replacement for innovation. This is taking existing services that you have and products that you have and designing a customer. I know the word is used quite often a customer experience for people that they’ll want to engage with your company. But innovation is something totally different, and the customer’s never going to tell you that they need a light bulb so that one of the famous sayings of W. Edwards Deming was nobody ever asked for a light bulb. And because you gain deeper knowledge by listening to the customer and anticipating what their needs are, you are the one that’s in charge of coming up with new innovations. And this is something that every organization needs to be proactively doing, is coming up with new products, new services and new ideas for completing their organization. So the customer crede very important to an organization and how you design it and understanding what those things are give you a competitive advantage over other companies that maybe operate from a values or very generic list of things, because you can start to design to very specific needs of customers. Be sure to listen to the effective executive podcast each week we download a new episode.