After listening to speaker after speaker at the North American Conference On Customer Management, I´m sitting in the airport trying to process the Niagara Falls of information I´ve received.
The "take always come down to two critical points. First, industry leaders such as American Express, Southwest Airlines, USAA, and other businesses known for their exceptional customer service, practice what the Four Seasons Hotel chain does. When asked the secret to his hotel´s success, Isadora Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons hotels, responded:
"What is the key to our success? It all boils down to following the Golden Rule."
To practice the Golden Rule, you have to focus on your customers, not your goods or services. It sounds so simple, yet so few businesses do it.
The second take away, echoed by at least six of the speakers I heard including General Colin Powell, emphasized that before you can create devoted customers, you must first create devoted employees. When your employees are motivated; your costs drop and your profits rise. You cannot offer legendary customer service if your employees are not happy.
Rodger Stotz of Maritz, Inc. referred to it as the Janis Effect: What the employees experience is how they will treat customers!
Rodger and other speakers gave examples of numerous companies who went back and defined their values, purposes, and visions. Each example cited had top-down support from upper management who supported it through a variety of methods including insuring accountability. They also poured additional resources into measuring customers´ perceptions of their companies. Many of them use the Net Promoter Score to do this.
Medtronic may have the best illustration of this. It uses a graphic to train its employees that show its customers at the center, with the next concentric circle being its front-line employees.
If you have the opportunity to attend NACCM next year, I encourage you to do so. It helped provide me with the data I´ll use to help my organization evolve into one with a more customer-centric focus. And the real benefit will be accomplishing our mission sooner.