People, oiling the machine of your Customer-Centric World (Part 2 of 6)

Without people, organisations simply do not exist. People form the cornerstones and the foundations of your business, creating your products, delivering your services, serving your customers on a day-to-day basis, and ultimately, delivering shareholder value.

Gears gears cogs bits n pieces
Creative Commons License photo credit: Elsie esq.

They are the ‘oil in the machine’.

Except that, in the post-industrial age, most companies can no longer continue to operate successfully on such a mechanistic basis.

In the information age, the best managed customer-centric companies function on a much more fluid, dynamic basis, allowing people to interact more freely, grouping and forming new, ad-hoc team structures organically as and when required.

Dynamic teams deliver great customer value

Organisations that support a dynamic, adaptive culture foster a more creative and satisfying working environment, which in turn enables the development of more diverse internal relationships that can yield great benefits for both the people and the organisation – and more importantly for the customer.

This applies to most types of businesses and at all levels in those organisations. Dynamic teams can form as part of a formal process – say, for an internal project to implement a new computer system, or informally – say, around the desire of the employees to improve the customer service they provide, or to enhance and improve ways of working.

For the moment, we will leave aside the special case of ‘project teams’ and focus on the more informal teams.  Project teams will be examined later in another post.

Front-line staff have better customer insight than management

People working at the ‘coalface’ day-in and day-out develop a tremendous insight into:

  • what customers actually want
  • where the real problems are – as opposed to the problems identified through the collection of inappropriate metrics
  • what works and what doesn’t work
  • which approaches (ways of working) are better/easier/more efficient/more enjoyable
  • how to fix situations when things go wrong

Listen to the Voice of the Employee – and reap the rewards

Yet all too often, these people do not have a voice – risk-averse ‘management’ and the widespread acceptance of the status-quo keeps them working in the same tired patterns that fail to deliver the excellent customer experience needed to keep customers happy and engaged – and buying.

Front-line employees can pool their collective experience to identify common problem trends, explore different approaches for resolving them and make recommendations regarding potential solutions. Front-line employees are also in a great position to spot niche-trends (opportunities) in customer needs.

Agile organisations provide better customer service

The agile organisation that can respond quickly to these surfaced needs by developing new features, products and services, is able to provide a superior customer service whilst generating additional revenue, and retaining more customers.

Enabling teams to drive customer-focussed change makes everyone a winner

Management should therefore be supportive of these self-forming teams – perhaps encouraging people who show interest and potential to take the initiative to start things off. In a shop-floor environment for example, this might extend to giving participants extra time (and providing refreshments) for a working lunch.

Providing an environment where employees are listened to, where they feel safe to raise new ideas and where some of those ideas can be implemented can benefit the customer, the employees and the company alike.

Inspiring, supporting and enabling your staff to make ‘grass-roots’ changes to better serve the customer ultimately provides a win-win-win situation.

What do you think? What other elements of your Customer-centric strategy can your people play a part in?

About deancarlton

Leader | Business Change Consultant | KJ | Yachtsman | Yoga & Meditation Teacher | Unleash the Tiger Within & release the POTENTIAL + VALUE in People & Business
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10 Responses to People, oiling the machine of your Customer-Centric World (Part 2 of 6)

  1. Hi Dino,
    Thank you for your post.
    This stuff is new to me. I understand the value of teams, but have no clue how to manage a team effectively.
    Q: What is front-line staff ?
    Are there any great books on this subject?

  2. Rob says:

    Hey Dino,

    My friend you are such a technically sound writer and obviously well-informed on your topic. I definitely believe it is in managements (ownerships) best interest to provide fertile ground for employees to rise and shine through the ranks. They are the front line of engagement. Who better to further concepts and come up with new ideas. Thanks for another keeper.

    Live it LOUD!

    • deancarlton says:

      Hey Rob, how’s it going?

      You are very kind in your comments there! Put it down to 25 years of providing solutions for customers…..sheesh….!!

      Your points are so true; and as a long time leader/manager, I can attest to the benefits to management of your “rise and shine” approach.

      By enabling my teams to do what they do best (including clearing obstacles/blockers/distractions out of their way), they are able to focus on delivering superb results – and I get to bask in the ‘reflected glory’ when they do so!

      Obviously, not detracting from the credit where credit is due – I also ensure they get maximum recognition for the work.

      Live it LOUD my friend!

      • Rob says:

        Hey Dino,

        RE: I also ensure they get maximum recognition for the work.

        The best return on investment right there my friend. I happen to invent things or improve existing products (nothing big as of yet!). I know others that have also. One friend invented something that is massed produced but the idea was taken by a less than honest middle person (company). My friend received very little and did not have the money to seek legal recompense. She now says years later that she will never do it again. Now, had she been fairly dealt with and given her due she may have blossomed many times over. So important for managers to give credit where it is due. It begets growth and harmonious working environments.

        Live it LOUD!

        • deancarlton says:

          The situation your friend experienced sucks! A lesson to us all – beware, when working for ‘the man’!

          Great point about ROI – great customer service / experience starts with the employees – happy, recognised and rewarded people will usually go the extra mile for the customer.

  3. Lee says:

    Hi dean some management teams of big companies are so detached from the majority of there employees now. Then they wonder why there is a motivation issue and a big turn over in staff. Like you say they need to engage everybody and make them feel a part of what is going on. So keeping them motivated to make the company a success.

    Another great post thanks lee

    • deancarlton says:

      Hi Lee,

      You are right – and organisations cannot hope to be (successfully) customer-centric, if they do not start engaging authentically with the very people (their employees) that will provide the extraordinary customer experience they are seeking to provide.

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