Someone nicely said that ” if you take take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers”. This is true in letter and spirit. We launched an organization development intervention two years back to bring “customer centricity” in our organisation. We were keen to keep the customer at the centre of everything we do. While we had many key aspects of this intervention, evolving a “Customer first culture”was one of our major priorities.
It may be easy to measure customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. However, we were wondering as to how do we define ” Customer first culture”. We did workshops across the organization and invited employees who were customer facing and also those who were customer supporting. This helped us define what “Customer first culture” could mean for any organization.
Interestingly, employees told us that “Attitude, Empathy & Commitment” were the three key cornerstones of creating a customer first culture. Then we decided that we need to train our employees to understand what customers felt about us, inculcate the right attitude , build empathy and instill commitment in whatever their role is in the organization.
We trained most of our employees – direct, indirect and even third party employees and contract employees working with us. At this stage, we realised that the real success of creating a customer first culture would be to make every employee a brand ambassador of the company. Every action of every employee every day can either promote the culture of customer first or become a impediment in evolving this culture.
Interestingly employees gave us a lot of ideas to evolve this culture. We realised that we need to share success stories and learn from the mistakes our employees did every day. We sharedall the success stories and evolved rewards and recognition for great customer orientation displayed by employees in different parts of the organization. This propelled this movement and helped us promote the right envirorment for evolving the desirable culture.
So, almost every employee in the organization was trained. Customer facing employees, customer supporting employees, employees in support functions, our workmen in the shop floor and also the security staff, pantry staff, receptionist et all. This ensured that every employee kept the customer at the centre of everything she or he did in the organization. Every employee realised that every action every day was critical for evolving this culture.
This gradually became a way of life. Our security staff were courteous to every visitor coming to our organization. Our pantry staff were caring and conscious of our guests. Our workmen were prompt in responding to customer complaints on the shop floor. Our support function staff were responsive and proactive. Our sales and service personnel realised the benefit of having a positive attitude, being empathetic and keeping their commitments to customers every day.
This has not only resulted in more than doubling our customer satisfaction index but has helped the organization grow multi fold in business and profits.
We learnt by making every employee our brand ambassador.
S Ramesh Shankar