When you think of a customer-centric organization, you may think of Starbucks, the Ritz-Carlton, or Zappos. Becoming customer-centric is the aspiration of many companies, yet few understand that getting there is a journey, not a destination.
Becoming a customer-centric leader like USAA or Trader Joe's requires the agility and commitment to respond to customers' ever-changing needs, building mutually profitable relationships, and aligning the organization's resources, processes, and strategies around the customer.
That' why when Dan Hesse, former CEO of Sprint, took over the helm of the telecom giant in 2008, his priorities focused on improving the customer experience,strengthening the brand, and generating cash. Achieving those three goals required aligning the culture around improving the company's customer experience.
Hesse, who spoke at the recent Conference Board's Customer Experience conference in New York City, discussed his "Magnificent 7," his seven steps to successfully aligning the organization around CX.
1. Compensation--Hesse and his team aligned the variable compensation so that all employees got the same exact perspective.
2. Agenda - He restructured the agenda for every single opps meeting to begin with churn. This included a discussion around who was leaving, why, and the action plan for getting them back.
3. Data - Data was used to identify root causes of dissatisfaction and the team collected reason codes that the reps plugged in for why customers left. The process allowed the company to focus on the causes of dissatisfaction.
4. Accountability--The codes were actionable across the organization and everyone was held accountable. Hesse personally held everyone accountable. If any issues stemmed from a repeat call and wasn't resolved the first time, that rep was held accountable.
5. Leadership--Hesse assembled a strong team lead on the alignment project.
6. Simplification--Customers, he figured, would pay a premium for simplicity so Sprint simplified the rate plans, reduction options, and eliminated overage charges. These efforts reduced customer confusion, make training easier, and there were fewer screens to access to get information.
7. Brand principles--He really lived the brand. Hesse himself never appeared in commercials or advertising focused on price promotions--only about the brands' values.
Are you currently on a journey like Sprint's? What's your plan for becoming customer-centric?