At our recent Walker Forum, I had the pleasure of leading a panel discussion among some of our attendees who are senior leaders in their companies. The theme of the panel discussion was "Leading a Customer-Focused Organization." We asked these leaders why their companies are particularly customer-focused and how they maintain that, and here’s some of what we learned:
- Customer listening initiatives are an integral part of their companies’ strategies and are regularly discussed at the CEO-staff level.
- Achieving their current level of customer focus has been a journey – one that was often started by a crisis. One of these executives told a story about having to swap out his own company’s equipment and replace it with a competitive offering in order to address some persistent customer problems. This experience really showed their executive team they needed to better understand their customers’ businesses and the integral role their products and services played.
- Constant communication is needed to keep their companies on the journey. That communication is targeted to all levels in the organization, from the CEO-staff to the product and service delivery teams.
- In many cases, monetary incentives are used to keep employees’ priorities in the right order.
The results of these efforts are tangible. Increased profitability, improved customer experiences, and fewer critical customer incidents were all cited as bottom-line outcomes. We see these kinds of benefits time and time again. It’s what led us to put together the Walker Index (below right) to demonstrate how customer-focused companies perform over time.
The Walker Index is a stock index comprised of current Walker clients. Companies are included in the index only during their tenure as Walker clients. Companies that are attracted to Walker are committed to using the stakeholder perspective as an impactful management tool. The Walker Index indicates that these companies outperform the broad markets – by about a 5:1 margin!
Unless your company is achieving these kinds of results today, you may want to challenge whether you’re sufficiently customer-focused.