How to get word of mouth advertising to work for you.
W.o.M, Think Small, Hiring, Train’g, Fire’g, Rewards, Communicatn, Lead by Example,Focusing on a Long-term Vision +more.
We have learned that beyond quality content, our small business customer wants to feel like we are addressing them directly and they want to be part of a community of people facing the same challenges as they do in their businesses. Because of this, we are working hard on building a Customer-Focus Culture into our entrepreneurial mind.
An outstanding Example. One company that always comes to mind when I think of a business with a Customer-Focus Culture is Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I first heard about Sweetwater when I asked one of my classes where the best place would be for me to buy the equipment I needed when we setting up the recording studio for our company. Three students, all involved in the music industry, all said I should use Sweetwater.
Talk about word of mouth advertising at its best!
From observing Sweetwater as a customer, as well as from my interactions with other companies with a strong customer orientation, I have come up with seven key elements that I know we need to focus on, to build a strong commitment to customer service into our Customer-Focus Culture.
Building a Customer-Focus Culture
1. Think Small. When I made my first order from Sweetwater it was not a particularly large order. I immediately got an Email confirming my order. I was impressed that it had a personal feel. Then I got a phone call from one of their sales engineers just checking to see if I had any questions – no hard selling of more stuff, just checking in. I was more impressed! This was followed by at least one more email and a phone call, confirming that the order shipped and making sure everything was what I needed. From these interactions, I imagined Sweetwater to be a small retail outfit that was good at offering mail order business. When I looked them up online, I was shocked to learn that they have more than 850 employees working in a 180,000 square foot facility! Although it has grown to be a big company, Sweetwater has been able to keep the personal service that you would normally only expect from a small business.
2, Hire carefully. Arciplex is a company that helps people take ideas for products all the way from prototype to manufacturing. Founder, Tom Haarlander, believes in being intentional about building their Customer-Focused Culture as the company grows. To find engineers who can work within the team-oriented, creative environment he uses Open-ended Interviews that focus on cultural fit. All finalists go with the leadership team to Escape Game, where a group of people must solve a series of challenges to make their way out of a locked room within one hour. He looks for engineers who can have fun & work effectively with a diverse team.
3. Train with Customer-Focused Culture in mind. Sweetwater puts its newly hired Sales Engineers through a thirteen-week training program [that’s lucky – Wiz4biz], before they are ready to work with customers.
4. Fire quickly. Some employees are never quite able to fit into a company’s culture. If employees do not embrace a customer-focused orientation, it is best to remove them quickly, before they cause problems with customers and disrupt the Customer-Focused Culture of the business – which will dis-courage others.
5. Rewards. Employee evaluations and rewards need to be tied to your culture. To foster Customer-Focused employees, a heavy emphasis needs to be placed on this when employees are reviewed and when raises & bonuses are given out.
6. Communication. If you look at Sweetwater’s website, it celebrates their culture & its commitment to the customer. It is clear this is the number one #1 priority for everyone in this company.
7. Lead by Example. I know that I will need to remain vigilant about my own commitment to customers in everything I do and in every decision I make – in order to maintain a Customer-Focused Culture.
8. Focusing on a Long-term Vision. Navigating our business through the challenges of our early growth, has us keenly focused on the little things that need to get done day-to-day to assure our success. But we need a Vision of where we want to be in 1, 3 & 5 years. Then we can focus on this or change it.
Comments: What do you think of a Customer-Focused Culture? Share any experiences you have with it.
from Forbes.com Zine 06 Mar 16 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz