Written by Silvana Buljan for Buljan & Partners Consulting
Any Project of transformational change requires the backing and commitment of the leaders in our businesses. This has been demonstrated and is indisputable. It is especially true when the change involves taking the business from product/services centric management to customer centric management, ensuring an excellent and differential customer experience.
Have we ever asked ourselves if our leaders are prepared to support and promote this change? Do they know what steps need to be taken in a transformation towards greater customer orientation and the changes that would be needed in their own business management? From the point of view of operational teams we demand that our leaders support our decisions and serve as an example, but we are blind to the fact that they need support too, as well as guidance and recognition for this transformation.
No leader will say customers are not important; they are for any business because without them there would be no invoices to be sent. Common sense. No leader will change his or her managing style when we implement Customer Experience projects. A common complaint in businesses which say they would like to be more customer centric is that leadership demands short-term results although these do not have added value for customers. Where is the balance in this? In ignorance.
The reality of a leader nowadays is to be under tremendous pressure from all sides: Shareholders or business owners want to see results and not talk about problems. Management committees become meetings of passing the buck and justifying why objectives were not achieved. Working environment surveys complain about bosses and leaders. Society demands responsible and transparent management. His or her partner complains about not getting enough attention. Children grow distant because they don’t spend enough time with their working parents… And we want them to support us in cultural changes in our companies.
Leaders need guidance, people who make them understand what it means to lead a business towards a superior customer experience; the role employee experience plays in customer experience; and what it means to lead this transformation. They also need support, people they can trust without having to question whether this trust is related to their position and not to their person. Support in preparing the celebration of achievements and support in communicating failure. And lastly, they need recognition. Employees are asking for more recognition in every working environment survey and this is one of the points to improve in all companies, but leaders are people too and need recognition. Especially when evaluating sacrifices they make in their private lives compared to their professional development. And this does not refer to recognition in kind, but in forgiving them when at times they are not able to take the decisions we want them to take, or when they make mistakes and they need that we assess their management style constructively during a business transformation.
In short, the support process includes:
1) Awareness: making contact with the reality of what it means to be a customer centric company and how this will affect the revenue account.
2) Immersion: intensifying own role in initiating the change towards customer centricity.
3) Empowerment: learning to allow oneself to ask for help and collaboration of others.
4) Collaboration: as a management team agree on a collective commitment of being consistent in the transformation towards customer centricity.