The Value of Client-Centric Leadership
Integrating a client-centric leadership style into how you practice and operate your business can bring you closer than ever to meeting the needs of your client or customer. Studies show that customer-centric leadership is the new growth indicator for businesses and organizations, with results such as improved business success in market share, faster growth, and increased customer spend.
What Is Customer-Centric Leadership?
Customer-centric leadership puts the focus of business services, operations, and practices on the experience of the customer and meeting the customer’s needs. This includes demonstrating a genuine commitment to the customer, their experience, and customer feedback, and must usually trickle down organizationally from the top of the business’s infrastructure.
For example, a manufacturer may be focused on creating the best possible product. They may become so focused on creating the most efficient and quality product that they fail to recognize how their product does not meet the needs of the customer.
If your company manufactures printers you might create a printer that utilizes very little ink and is so sturdy it may never break. However, it still does not meet the customer’s needs if operating the printer is so complex that the customer cannot perceive the value of your product. So while the printer may be highly optimized, it might also not fully serve the functions and needs of a customer who needs to print a simple flow chart.
If the printer manufacturer adopted a customer-centric leadership style, the manager might meet with the customer to watch and understand what the customer’s needs truly are — that they need an easily operable machine. The customer might still appreciate a highly efficient printer, but their needs for practicality might be more valuable than efficiency. If the company adopted client-centric leadership, the manager may instigate a redesign of the product, or foster the creation of instructional services and training and underline the importance of exceptional and genuine customer service.
By deeply associating your business practices, operation, and products to cater to the customer’s needs, businesses can build better relationships with their customer base, create more value with their products, and become more competitive in their industry.
Customer-Centric Leadership Traits
Creating customer-centricity in your business is no small feat, and is instigated at the highest levels of the organization. The role of a business leader is to inspire and mobilize their staff and teams to execute strategies and deliver the best possible results, products, and services. A customer-centric leader does this by engaging with the customer as an individual, finding out what their needs and wants truly are — using and disseminating this information to inspire their teams to deliver. Traits of customer-centric leaders include:
- Leading with direction and purpose. Customer-centric leadership includes creating a customer-focused vision and customer-centric company culture. It is the onus of the leader to make structural and organizational changes that pivot to meet the needs of the customer and to share customer insights with their teams to identify growth opportunities.
- Inspiring their employees. Customer-centric leaders not only create a clear and rational plan but also inspire and praise their employees for engaging and mobilizing towards that vision. Customer-centric leaders ensure that customer-centricity is the highest priority at all levels within the organization.
- Maintain momentum and culture. Customer centricity requires discipline, execution, and genuine long-term commitment. A customer-centric leader not only embraces the call to action and organizes employees, but also creates a long-term company culture focused on meeting customer needs and driving customer satisfaction.
How to Create a Customer-Centric Leadership Strategy
Leaders can improve customer-centricity in their business and teams by instigating a customer-centric strategy that is delivered through top-down organization and influence. Building a customer-centric organization may include:
- Actively researching and becoming more close and aware of end-customer goals and needs.
- Creating a mission statement and values that resonate with customers.
- Empowering, guiding, and rewarding staff and employees to uphold customer-centric values and offer the best service.
- Recruiting, hiring, and training through a lens of customer-centricity.
- Remaining agile and flexible to dynamic and changing customer needs.
- Fostering customer communication and participation.
- Proactively meeting customer needs and considering co-creating products of high value.
What Is the Impact of Customer Centricity?
Impacts of centering the customer experience in your companies values may include:
- Finding and recognizing opportunities for growth and innovation to meet changing customer desires and needs.
- Increasing customer satisfaction and reducing customer churn.
- Creating a unique experience that personalizes and builds customer experiences and relationships.
- Increasing profits and market share.
For example, law firms need leads and clients to sustain their business. While advocating for the client in the courtroom is the end product, they must also consider how they build their client-attorney relationship. This may include:
- Increasing and expediting response times.
- knowing how to properly empathize and address sensitive information with their client.
- Being honest and building trust.
- Setting reasonable expectations that the client understands.
Lawyers that recognize the importance of the entire customer experience in addition to the courtroom experience may receive more recommendations and positive reviews that open up opportunities for future leads and help them to grow their law business.
Measuring Customer-Centric Leadership Success
Customer-centric leaders that build a focused customer-centric culture in their businesses and organizations must also diligently monitor the success of their endeavors. This can be done by measuring customer experience using a few factors and tools.
- Implementing Voice of Customer (VOC) strategies. This includes regularly communicating and following up with customers to better understand their satisfaction and needs.
- Analyzing not only your customers but the needs of your competitor’s customers. This can help you to determine your current success, as well as opportunities for future growth.
- Utilizing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) — how likely your customer would recommend your brand.
- Considering customer attrition and seeking out the reasoning for customer loss or loyalty.
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