Howard Spector, co-founder and CEO of SimplePractice, explains why a customer-centric culture must permeate through an organization’s every action.
Company culture is the foundation of customer success. A company’s culture is derived from daily actions, both spoken and unspoken, that are displayed by leadership and that are acted on by others and tolerated by leadership. Culture is not a “set it and forget it” aspect of any business, it requires daily vigilance, or it unravels quickly.
As business owners, we are nothing without our customers—period. Customer experience includes customer service—it’s all connected. Human interactions are increasingly more important and impactful in a world that seems to be becoming less personal. I attribute much of the success of SimplePractice to the importance we place on customer success.
From day one, when I was our entire customer success department, I intuitively understood the value of being honest and transparent in each customer interaction. I knew we had to establish trust with our customers through personal interactions and product experience.
There will always be challenging times that test the resiliency of a company’s culture. However, it shouldn’t make a difference. If a company is always striving to provide customers with the best service and support, then when a crisis hits, there is little or nothing that needs to change.
Creating a Culture Placing the Customer First
Despite the clear benefits, many business leaders don’t fully comprehend what is necessary in creating an environment and culture within a company that values and supports customer experience. Too often, customer success departments are viewed as cost centers, and their roles are not valued as much as those in other departments.
I don’t think many business leaders deeply understand what it takes to create an environment and culture within a company that values and supports customer experience. Most of the experiences customers have, outside of using a product, are when they need help. In those moments, when the relationship is on the line, it is essential their interaction is positive. I believe that, in addition to great training, the most impactful thing you can do is create a company that has a thriving culture based on core values that genuinely resonate with customers and employees. These must not only be communicated and discussed, but embodied by the team from the top down daily.
Implementing A Company-Wide Focus
As crucial as customer support teams are, the focus on serving customers must not solely fall on them. A consumer-centric culture isn’t confined to specific departments or specific teams, it permeates through the organization’s every action.
It’s important that everyone in the company goes through customer support training when they start. That means everyone, regardless of title. Everyone should know what it’s like to receive customer support inquiries, so they can understand challenges faced from a customer’s perspective. Whether they’re on the product team or marketing team, every employee needs to have first-hand direct experience with supporting customers.
In addition to the initial onboarding process of being on the customer success team, everyone in the company should participate, on a weekly basis, in taking inbound support inquiries and working with customers. Every single job in the company is in service to our customers because, without them, we have no business.
Invest in Great Employees Who Lead by Example
A company is only as great as their employees. Invest in great people with aligned values and help them thrive. If you take care of your people by treating them with honesty and respect and by giving them the tools they need and opportunities to be successful in their roles, this will easily translate into them treating customers the same way.
Also, leadership must truly care about everyone and understand that they serve the people who take care of the company’s customers—the employees. They must proactively help their teams grow and thrive, always monitoring to make sure the right people are in the right roles to find success. I believe that doing all this, and more, with thoughtfulness and intention, ensures customers will be taken care of at the highest levels.
A company is one big interdependent team that will thrive through open collaboration and dedication to its customers. If you invest in the right people and focus on your customers, your company will be able to quickly adapt while continuing to build and maintain relationships with your customers.
About the Author
Howard Spector is co-founder and CEO of SimplePractice, responsible for leading the development and execution of long-term company strategy and growth. With over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry, Howard is an entrepreneur who has conceived, built, managed and sold a successful technology company, TrackYourHours. His additional experience includes project management of complex multi-million dollar systems and executive management positions for various start-ups. He is passionate about helping health and wellness professionals build and grow successful private practice businesses.
Howard has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Southern California.