Not many people wake up in the morning and say “today, I want to make life miserable for our customers.” Yet every day, lots of employees (from front-liners to senior execs) make decisions that end up frustrating, annoying, or downright upsetting their customers. But it’s often not individual actions that cause the problems. Often times, the issues come down to a lack of cooperation or coordination across people and organizations.
Given that most people want their company to better serve customers, a clear view of what customers need, want, and dislike can align decisions and actions. If everyone shared a vivid view of the target customers and had visibility into customer feedback, then there would be less disagreement about what to do for them. While it may be difficult to agree on overall priorities and strategies, it’s much easier to agree on the best way to treat customers.
Here are some implications of this law:
- Don’t wait for organizational alignment. No organizational structure is perfect; they all have some flaws. And it takes a long time to make major organizational changes. So rather than waiting for a structural change to create alignment, use a clear focus on customer needs as a way to align the decisions and actions of individuals — even if the organizations remain out of alignment.
- Broadly share customer insight. While we all know that front-line employees affect customer experience, almost everyone in the company also has some impact on how customers are treated. Think of your company as a large production crew making the stars (front-line employees) shine on stage (during customer interactions). Since many of the decisions that impact customers aren’t debated or discussed, they just happen, it helps for as many people as possible to understand customers. Think of this as a silent alignment process.
- Talk about customer needs, not personal preferences. Disagreements are somewhat natural when people debate things from their own points of view. Instead of discussing what you like or think, re-frame discussions to be about customers. If you find that you don’t really know enough about customers to solve the disagreement, then stop arguing and go get more information about your customers.
The bottom line: An external focus is an antidote to internal politics.
P.S. Here’s a link to all 6 laws of customer experience.