Wednesday, October 5th, was CX Day, a day of global celebration of customer experience promoted by the Customer Experience Professionals Association, so with that backdrop let’s talk about customer experience and customer focus…

Your Customer Orientation – Is It Foundational or Transformational?

Customer Experience has become one of the hottest new trends across multiple industries. Typing those two words into an internet search will bring back over 13 million results. A search of amazon.com returns 75 pages of books on the topic. Customer Experience has become big business. The best companies have always had an intense focus on their customer. When it comes to successful Customer Experience programs, businesses fall into one of two categories; their customer focus is either foundational or transformational.

Foundational

Some companies have customer-focus as the foundation of their business; one of the most legendary is L.L. Bean, in Freeport, Maine. From the beginning, the company’s founder was committed to the complete satisfaction of his customers. The original product was the Maine Hunting Shoe; according to the company’s website, “The rubber bottoms separated from the leather tops and 90 of those first 100 pairs were returned.” Although this troubled launch could have doomed the fledgling company, it became the basis of its commitment to complete customer satisfaction.

If you’re not familiar with the L.L. Bean commitment to customer satisfaction, episode 591 of This American Life, “Get Your Money’s Worth,” highlights the company’s intense commitment to 100% satisfaction: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/591/get-your-moneys-worth?act=2

Transformational

If the commitment to complete customer satisfaction is not a foundational principle for an organization, then a transformational approach is required for success. Everyone has experienced a “brand gap” of some type; where reality fell short of promises and expectations.  At its most basic, a company’s brand is what the customer says it is, not what the company says it is.

If a business is going to be successful in transforming to a true customer focused culture, it will have to make meaningful, perhaps radical, change. Leadership will have to embrace a bottom to top retooling of the culture. They will have to empower frontline employees to make the right decisions, they will have to make sure employees have the tools to deliver an outstanding experience. To use a well-worn cliche, they will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

A strategy focusing on delivering an outstanding Customer Experience can be great.  But ultimately the culture will allow the strategy to work.

Are you ready to transform?

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This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on October 3, 2016

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