5 Strategies to Drive Growth

“Growth” tends to mean several great things – more revenue, building a rockstar organization, career progression, or increasing influence and impact. Performing to your potential and achieving these types of growth typically requires that client service leaders are great at understanding, empathizing with, and connecting with their customers. Put in a more stalker sounding way, “customer obsession” drives growth. When Amazon outlines their leadership principles that guide all aspects of their business, “Customer Obsession” is listed at the top. “Customer” in this article means any party that receives products or services from another party and is inclusive of B2B, B2C, and internal service organization (e.g. IT, HR, other shared service) scenarios. This article will give you ideas about how to put customer obsession into practice so that you can achieve the growth that you are looking for.

The truth is, being consistently customer obsessed is hard. You need to run your own organization while also understanding your customer’s priorities, preference, pressures, and feelings – in an environment of constant fluidity. Effectively implementing customer obsession results in growth, while enabling you to make a great impact.

Here is one way to conceptualize how customer obsession is cultivated, along with some ideas to build a customer obsessed organization:

1. Proximity and Contact. Barriers like physical proximity and in-groups of “us” vs. “them” sometimes help us feel safe, but often prevent us from understanding and relating to customers. I know many entrepreneurs that feel more comfortable engaging with their peers and competitors than with their customers. I’ve seen countless “customer insights” departments in large organizations serve as a buffer between “the business” and “the customers.” I see walls between “IT and The Business”. Have you observed any of these? How can you improve direct contact with your customers so that you hear about their priorities, preferences, pressures, and feelings directly from them without the possibility of mistranslation? How can you increase the frequency, quality, and relevance of your contact with customers so that they keep you top of mind and see you as a relevant solver of their challenges? Some ideas include:

● Physically locate your work near your customers
● Avoid thinking and communicating using artificial barriers (“IT vs. The Business” – both have common goals)
● Make intentional customer interactions part of your day to day routines

2. Listen and Empathize. While being in proximity and contact is a great start, more is needed to internalize what your customers are actually experiencing and what they need. Ask open ended questions, listen, and understand. How well do you know how your product or service fits into the broader ecosystem of their day to day? How confident are you that your offering will resonate and solve a burning need? What data can you collect to quantify your customer’s state? How can you include your customer’s voice as you define your service offerings?

If it’s relevant to your role, consider setting up a “route ride” where you work “in the field” all day to see how customers operate and transact with your team. “Route Ride” is what it was called when I rode in a truck all day delivering soda to gas stations and convenience stores while I was working in the corporate office of a large beverage company. I learned a ton about how the business actually works and what customers really want. A take-away that stuck with me is how the drivers (my customers in this example) started work at 3:00AM and wanted to focus on the job with minimal administrative hassle. I’ve seen the route ride concept applied in the financial services, utilities, pharma, and other industries. How can this be applied within your business?

3. Take Action. I think this one is self explanatory – how can you apply what you learned from being in close proximity while listening, gathering data, and empathizing?

4. Test and Learn. Consider ongoing adjustments to your approach for engaging customers along with your service offerings to adapt as customer preferences change. Think about how customer preferences have evolved since 2020. What about this year alone? Customer preferences will remain fluid indefinitely as technological, political, environmental, and social change continues to happen. How can you gather the right information to keep track of customer preferences as they evolve? How can you position your services to continue to stay relevant? Some systematic items are listed below; this point is more about mindset – recognizing that you will need to constantly learn about your customer preferences and be mentally, emotionally, and systematically prepared to adapt.

5. Tools, Processes, & Data. This article isn’t supposed to be focused too much on this topic, but it would be incomplete without mentioning this. This section is about the functions of a marketing operations team, and what professional product managers do. Customer obsessed organizations use technology, data, and repeatable processes to institutionalize customer obsession and deliver personalized, relevant, and growth-oriented experiences. This includes:

● Gather and analyze data about your customers’ transactions, demographics, preferences. Purchase data, conduct surveys, and use analytics tools.
● Use this data as you plan your pipeline of customer facing enhancements (digital, call center, physical)
● Provide targeted messaging to customers that aligns your value proposition to their needs in their preferred language (words, tone, values)
● Build systems that engage customers through preferred channels (web, mobile, email, in person)
● Build feedback loops that continually improve customer experience based on data collected and customer feedback
● Many, many other ways. Consulting companies are great at this and have many more tools and ideas!

Pretty easy, right? Ready to take all of that and make it happen? What, it’s not so simple? Right. The truth is, only you know how to advance customer obsession behaviors, systems, and mindsets within your organization in a practical way that accounts for daily challenges, politics, and conflicts. As a coach, I can help you to find the right questions to answer, and help you to build a practical path to reach your goals.

Was this article helpful? Thought provoking? A massive oversimplification? Let me know in the comments and consider reaching out if I can be of further help: Chris@motion-spark.com

About the author

Chris Musano has worked for 18 years helping leaders and teams succeed through high stakes change. As a consulting executive leader, he has hired and led more than 500 people across 6 countries, run 8-figure P&Ls, and worked with 10+ fortune 500 companies to drive complex change. Chris is a Certified Executive Coach and entrepreneurial investor that has founded 3 startup businesses. He lives in Charlotte NC, USA and helps clients all over the world to build impact, clarity, and influence in reaching their goals. Consider reaching out! Chris@Motion-Spark.com