On average, it costs a minimum five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Depending on what industry you are in, this cost can be up to twenty-five times as much to attract new customers.
The Golden rule is to keep the customers you have happy!   In a competitive landscape and with retail giants such as Amazon on the horizon – where do you start to make sure you have a culture that ‘thinks customer’?
Let’s look at Amazon who claims to be as customer-centric as you can get. Amazon’s company goal stated back in 1977 was:
Amazon.com’s objective is to be the leading online retailer of information-based products and services, with an initial focus on books.
Within a few years this statement had updated to;
Our Vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they want to buy online.
More recently they have defined their company goal to simply be;
We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.
What a vision! As broad as the Vision statement is, it actually provides much clarity and direction on the priorities for people who are part of the brand.
The primary purpose of a clear vision statement is to state where the organisation wishes to be in future years. The benefits of a vision statement are:

  • It gives staff permission to always do what they think is best for the customer
  • It helps define goals, tactics and day to day activities
  • It helps guide processes and procedures with the customer always at the centre of the design

Whilst this may seem like the first obvious step towards building a customer-centric culture it is in fact not the most impactful step you can take.    You must start with defining the company purpose.
Why do you exist? What are you doing for someone else? Defining your company purpose takes the outward focus of your company to a whole new level, not just emphasising the importance of serving customers but also a statement that helps all staff put themselves in the customer’s shoes, seeing things from their perspective.
I liken this concept to the fact that you may be clear on where you are going but until you know WHY you’re not nearly as motivated or connected to keep on track!
Purpose statements are motivational and if they don’t connect to the heart as well as the head then you need to revisit it.
A 2014 HBR article: Your company’s purpose is not its Vision, Mission or Values offers up other company examples of purpose, such as:
–       ING (“Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business”)
–       The Kellogg food company (“Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive”)
–       And the insurance company IAG (“To help people manage risk and recover from the hardship of unexpected loss”).
Recently I have been doing some work with a client who, as part of transforming their culture to be customer-centric required us to start with getting clear on the company purpose.
The benefits of turning their attention towards the altruistic purpose of the business have been evident through:

  • More open dialogue amongst staff about how their varied roles contribute to a greater purpose, a sense of belonging and WHY the company has been formed
  • Existing silos amongst the teams have dissolved, with all staff recognising the common purpose they have when at work
  • Decision making in meetings have become easier and problem-solving more effective

People are sub-consciously more motivated, knowing that their small efforts, collectively, are going a long way.
What will you do to keep customers from looking elsewhere and how have you connected your staff to the heart of WHY you exist?
When your staff feel connected they will do a much greater job of connecting with the customer, leading to higher value per customer and less customer churn.
Jaquie Scammell
‘Why serve when you can inspire’