Ask not what your customer can do for you, but what you can do for your customer.

-- Freely, after John F. Kennedy

“Customers for Keeps” should be the mantra for organizations that value customer loyalty. A single customer can mean the difference between success and failure. Choosing to cultivate the loyalty and return business of customers is smart.

We serve our customers best when we have the courage to challenge their assumptions and educate them with our expertise. By listening to the said and unsaid we can create counter-offers for increased success. Value is the key component of their cost equation.

Cheryl talks to your customers and learns what your company does that helps and hinders success.  She works with your leadership team to develop customer-centric strategies and provides training and coaching to build skills and ownership practices.  The results:  the creation of an Extraordinary Customer Experience and establishment of a long-term competitive advantage through increased customer loyalty.

Case Study: Overcoming a culture of obedience

A global OEM wanted to accelerate their Extraordinary Customer Experience initiative. Engineers from an acquisition were inexperienced in customer communications, project management and conflict resolution. Operating mode was Obedience, which produced reactivity rather than proactivity. Communication was via email which short-changed the discovery process. Customers felt treatment was mechanical and insensitive. Customer changes occurred late in the process adding cost and time.

The Solution

A 3-6 month initiative called “Customers for Keeps”  was conducted with a variety of manufacturing locations.   It comprised Voice of Customer interviews, multi-leveled and cross-functional workshops, action assignments, learning teams and 1:1 coaching.  It addressed the attitude, knowledge, skills and human processes required to create and sustain relationships.  Through a combination of top down and bottom up, learning focused on the cultural mindset shift from Obedience to Empowerment to produce loyal “delighted” rather than “satisfied” customers who were willing to go elsewhere.

Emphasis on uncovering more about customer request beyond how much, of what by when.  Participants learned how to engage in a high value conversation early on to prevent last-minute changes.

  • Avoiding actions that produce “Customers from Hell” and instead instigating actions that produce “Customers as Partners”
  • Discarding conventional wisdom that undermines true business partnerships
  • Identifying the “I don’t know that I don’t know” customer needs
  • Asking high value questions, listening to the said and probing the unsaid
  • Managing upsets, while learning how not to trigger them in the first place
  • Trust as a process
  • The magic of counter-offers, more powerful than satisfying the customer request
  • Letting go of excuses and committing to corrective and preventive actions
  • Following up

Post-training coaching focused on challenging customer situations: managing culturally-distinct global teams,  gaining buy-in from other functional areas, giving “bad news” to customers and not losing trust, providing counter-offers, saying “no” while enhancing relationships, and managing commitments inside and outside the organization.

The Results

Improved Net Promoter scores on customer loyalty

Improved speed to market

“First Time Right” with less changes improving OTD and cost.

Company-wide awareness that the entire organization “owns” the Customer Experience.

Increased employee engagement

Mindset shift to ownership, accountability, proactivity, empathy and how it’s accomplished.

Shift from internal focus to external focus

Execution excellence increasing customer trust.

Are you new to the business world? See yourself as a Subject Matter Expert but a Rookie in Customer Relationship Management?