Maria, over at Customers Are Always (another of my “must read” customer service blogs) links to a post by Jeff Menguin. Jeff mentions two books that have influcenced his thinking about customer service and then lists Seven Fundamental Imperatives of Customer Driven Company.
They are right on target and I highly recommend you study them and use them as mileposts on your journey to changing the focus of your business to that of the customer.
I’m going to attempt to add to Jeff’s discussion by suggestion two things you should be aware of before you begin. First, if your company has been around for years or decades and is not now focused on the customer, chances are you have plenty of people who may have been around for years who have been successful without a customer focus. They will be wondering why they should change their behavior or focus when they’ve been so successful.
If you’re not knowledgeable in basic marketing, you’ll need to become familiar with it. You’re trying to change not only your company’s focus, but it’s culture. For that you’re going to need a strong ongoing marketing plan focused on your employees. You may actually refine your plan by focusing on different groups of employees such as senior managers, middle managers, front-line staff, etc. No doubt you’d already planned on emphasizing the benefits to your customers and maybe even your business, but what will the benefits to each of these groups be? In addition to their already heavy work loads, you’re going to be asking them to learn new ways of doing things. This is going to add stress to their lives so you’ll have to emphasize the benefits to them. Is it increased commissions, increased profit sharing, reduction in customer complaints, or something else?
Second, read up on change management. You can Google it or read any number of short or long books on the topic. That will help you to understand that resistance to change is normal and that there are steps you can take to shorten the transition period and get through to the new way of doing things.
Implementing a marketing plan and becoming knowledgeable in change management will help you change your company’s focus sooner and with less disruption.