Good Boss, Bad Boss - Becoming the One you Want to Be (Part 7 of Leadership Series)

 For a growth culture, companies should put the customer first

For a growth culture, companies should put the customer first

A man named George who was in his late thirties, well known for his partying, and questionable behavior - both in his business and personal life, dies unexpectedly. Upon his death he’s escorted up the stairs to heaven where he is greeted by St. Peter. George is surprised even to be near the pearly gates because of his questionable life choices. However, an even greater surprise is about to take place. St. Peter explains that he knows George lived a questionable life at times but he also, had many flashes of goodness. Therefore, Peter would provide the recently deceased man the option tochoose where he wanted to go - either heaven or hell. George was certainly shocked but with the help of St. Peter opened a door to see what heaven looked like. What he saw was beautiful! People were floating on clouds with a peaceful look on their faces; nearby two angels played music on a harp. There were fresh flowers everywhere, and George couldn't help but notice that all the people seemed to be joyful, stress-free and content.

After the Heaven tour, George was brought down to the other place - hell, which had three gold doors. He knocked on the middle door and was greeted by a well-dressed man who said, "welcome George! I am so glad to meet you and so very happy to have you here!" George couldn't believe his eyes or ears. He'd always been under the impression that the devil was a monster with horns, a tail and his weapon of choice was a pitchfork. Instead, George was looking at a man who was a smooth communicator, gracious and an outstanding host. The devil then escorted him to the remaining doors. When George opened the first door, he saw everyone was rich beyond his or her wildest dreams with money literally raining down upon them. Behind the second door, he saw the most beautiful, fit and happy people he'd ever seen - laughing, celebrating and having a grand time. Finally behind the third door, he saw the people had all the material comforts one would ever want. He thanked the Devil and then hurriedly ran up the steps to give St. Peter his decision. George said "St. Pete, I've made my decision. I choose to go to the other place because as you know, I am still a relatively young man - with a zest for life in the fast lane. I believe that hell is the place for me" and with that, he raced down the steps and knocked on the door. For some reason the previously golden door now appeared rusty - but before George could entertain another thought - the door was abruptly opened by a red monster who had horns and a tail and a pitchfork in his hand who proceeded to, stab the fork into Georges' torso, lifted him overhead and was about to drop him into a huge pit of fire when George screamed - WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! Mr. Devil, there is some mistake! You see, yesterday I was greeted by an articulate man who gave me a tour of a place filled with rich, happy, beautiful people! This. is. not. what. I. saw. yesterday. As the devil threw George into the fiery pit he laughed and replied - "oh my silly George... The reason everything is different today versus yesterday is because yesterday you were a prospect but today my friend, you are a customer!"

Isn't it ironic that often the customer experience after the sales cycle is one that is parallel to the aforementioned story? Companies spend large sums of money each year to train their customer-facing employees on the best techniques, positioning strategies and how to overcome objections. These employees have pay plans that reward them for customer satisfaction and customer retention. But what about everyone else? What about accounting, administration, or operation departments?   How often have you heard an upset customer say something like,. "Initially I had a good experience with your company. My team of managers loved your salesperson. She was honest, professional always answered our questions and was responsive when anyone on the team needed help. However since the contract was signed, I rarely hear from your company anymore. I guess the honeymoon is over!"

The solution to this all too familiar story is simple but is not simplistic to implement. It is not a quick fix. However bosses, leaders, and companies that embrace the 7th principle are more profitable, have higher customer retention and happier employees. This game-changing Leadership Principle # 7 is:

7) Good Bosses, Leaders & Companies make sure that every employee from top to bottom puts the customer 1st, always.

How to Develop a Culture that is Customer Centric

1) Everyone from the CEO to the Janitor Signs a Contract that emphasizes their promise to serve the customers

2) Everyone from the CEO to the Janitor receives financial incentives for Customer Retention and Customer Satisfaction

3) Successes (client is saved, the difficult challenge is resolved, the customer writes a letter of appreciation, etc.) are celebrated each morning  by the entire company the day after they occur. These celebratory moments can be captured in a few words, short skype message or even a morning roll call meeting

The key to changing a culture starts at the top (c-level), permeates to the middle (management and their teams), seeps to the next level (facility, operations staff) and then rises back up to the middle and then the top before it touches and influences the customer experience. Changing a culture is a process, not a one-time event or a nice mission statement on the wall in the break room.Companies that have instilled a customer first culture such as Southwest Airlines, Kimley-Horn & Associates and Ultimate Software have not only recorded above average profitability,  achieved higher employee retention, produced higher customer satisfaction scores than the competitors in their respective verticals but were also, made Forbes Magazine's list of Top Companies to Work in 2015!

I look forward to hearing your ideas, thoughts and successes at lee.novak@growthvisions.com