The Five Habits You Need
Bob Thompson is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. Bob is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation which includes being editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies.
Bob’s new book, Hooked On Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies takes a fresh look at customer-centric business management, exploring what Bob Thompson has identified as the five key organizational habits that enable any company to execute its business strategy more effectively and, ultimately, to outperform its competitors.
Related Podcasts and Transcription: Customer Think Bob Thompson on Customer Centricity
Excerpt from the Podcast
Joe: Well you center on five habits, could you just name them and just briefly explain what they are?
Bob: Yes sure. The habits are, number one is Listen. This has two dimensions to it. If I’m not making this too complicated, there’s kind of a strategic way of listening through market research and understanding what your customers really care about, what drives their loyalty. There’s more of the tactical feedback sort of listening, making sure that you know how good an experience you’re actually delivering to them. So there’s a lot of ways to do both of those things. I put it under the umbrella of listen.
Habit two is Think, which is about making good fact-based decisions. You know there’s a lot of hype about using analytics and Big Data. Basically what I found is that the best businesses have this kind of collaboration of man and machine. They have very good decision making skills as business leaders but they use technology effectively to help them. They don’t turn over their decisions to some tool. So making these decisions sounds so straightforward but actually very few companies do it really well. There’s a lot of sort of ingrained habits of making decisions because we’ve always done things that way as opposed to looking at it objectively with a fresh eye.
Habit three is empowerment. It’s to empower employees to use the information, the resources, and deliver the value to customers that you want them to deliver and not forcing them to check back with the boss for every little thing. So to me that’s kind of a litmus test for empower. If you say your employees are empowered but then you give them a rule book that’s six inches thick and say “You’re empowered to do only what’s in this rule book,” then I’d say they’re not empowered; they might as well be a robot, or you should automate that task if they have no latitude whatsoever. And there’s plenty of examples in the book about companies that are able to create value in interesting ways because their employees are more engaged and empowered to do what they need to do.
Habit four is Create. It’s frankly just another word, a word I prefer to innovate. The reason I prefer it is because innovate, just like customer centricity is one of those terms that everybody claims they do and very few companies actually do a very good job of it. So what I’m trying to get at is creating new value. Not just delivering what you said you were going to do but just pushing for finding new products, new services, going beyond what you’re delivering today and looking for something new. Again this is more of a distinguishing characteristic of top performing companies is they’re constantly looking to do something new. So I put that under the Create umbrella.
Number five is Delight. This is probably the most controversial of the five habits. There’s a fair segment of the consulting and the academic community that would argue well Delight is a bad idea. You can’t sustain it and so on and so forth. I disagree with that. If you intend to be an industry leader, you really have to be thinking how to deliver more than what your customers are expecting, but do it in a way that’s rational. And that’s the part. People get hung up on well Delight means every time somebody calls the call center you got to wow them. That’s not a sustainable way of doing it. Most customers in fact would say “I’m delighted if I don’t have to call the call center because you didn’t give me a reason. Nothing failed that I needed to call. If I do call I just want to get my problem solved quickly and easily.” But there are many opportunities through experiences to create little moments of delight. And these sort of memorable moments to me, this is the currency of the day for top companies. How do you create reasons for customers to remember what the heck you provided to them? If all you do is go into work every day saying I’m going to do only exactly what I promised to do and nothing more and if somebody complains I’ll fix it, you’re going to get run over eventually by somebody else in your industry or a related industry that’s coming in that’s willing to be more aggressive. I think Delight to me is kind of a litmus test for companies that really want to be leaders as opposed to just survive.
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