Adopt a People-Centric Approach to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Customers meeting

Adopting a people-Centric Approach can help improve customer satisfaction and profitability.

Does a leader need to be the smartest person in the company to achieve growth and customer satisfaction? No.

In fact, being the smartest person in the company can actually impede growth. Some leaders just can’t get over “themselves.”

Yet unfortunately when you suggest that they could be the problem, it’s often met with one of the following responses:

  • Confusion (i.e. you talking to me?)
  • Dismissive (i.e. you have no idea what you’re talking about)
  • Shock (i.e. how dare you talk to me that way)
  • Anger (i.e. you’re out of here)

After all, they are the smartest people in the company. They know the problems, they know what needs to be done, and they will do it.

We have a (perhaps unwelcome) secret to share…

No one is that smart. No one can do it all exceptionally alone (at least for long). And talented employees want to contribute and show their talent.

The greatest risk in this self-delusional thinking is that your brightest employees will actually be the ones that bring you out of the recession stronger. Limit their chance to do so — dim their opportunity — and your great employees will leave, with the remaining employees just doing just what they are told, and the replacement employees will be less talented.

Whom does this adversely affect outside of the leader and your employees? Your customer. Who benefits? Your competition!

It is essential for leaders to understand that customer service is the lifeblood of their business. Yes we are aware that cash is king and without positive cash flow the business ceases to exist. Without satisfied customers, however there is no cash. And without satisfied and engaged employees there are no customers – satisfied or not!

So let’s take a critical look at what the most successful corporations, organizations and companies are doing different.

Why Nordstrom, Zappos, Apple and Netflix Ranks High in Customer Satisfaction?

Are the companies listed above perfect? Of course not. Are they serious competitors? Absolutely. How are they differentiating their customer service from others in their industry? They are using an employee-centric approach to heighten their customer service.

The premise of “The Service-Profit Chain” (first developed at Harvard University by James L Heskett) speaks to this approach. It’s premise is simple: highly satisfied customers drive growth and profitability, and highly equipped and satisfied employees will better satisfy customers to drive that growth.

Otherwise said, employees with the skills and power to really serve their customers have an increased employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty which in turn leads directly to increased service to the customer, meaning greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, which of course, leads to greater revenue. Most simply stated, satisfied employees are a critical contributor to customer satisfaction!

We see this as an employee driven profit model – and it’s “people centric”, which to us is the heart of your business.

One healthcare software consulting company survived the recession relatively unscathed. Another grew over 38% percent during the heart of the recession. How? By providing personalized and highly focused customer service.

As small businesses re-surface post-recession and look to differentiate themselves and grow, improving customer service through a people-centric approach will be an important strategy to adopt.

So, when leaders start to think about growth they should start first with their customers and how to provide value, and realize that it’s their employees that are the golden egg. Then the conclusion is inescapable: prepare and support your employees to provide outstanding service and your customers will reward your efforts..

About the Authors

Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest are Founding Partners of Kubica LaForest Consulting, a leadership and management consulting and coaching firm, predominantly focusing in the health related sector. They are also the authors of Organizational Gravity: A Guide to Strategically Growing Your Brand, Culture, and Talent.

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