Time to wake up and smell the Apple juice - Business Works
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Time to wake up and smell the Apple juice

Liz Saunders, Mind Gym Head of Solutions Imagine it's 2020. Which of the following is the most likely?

A world record-smashing haul for Team GB&NI at the Olympics? Unlikely, unfortunately. Simon Cowell is the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport? Lets hope not. Apple is worth more than most European countries? Hmm. This claim was made prematurely earlier this year, but it certainly is a distinct possibility.

But why will they have continued their success?

Mac users may claim that Apple offer the best products. But not everyone would agree, particularly those who need Adobe Flash. And Apple certainly don't compete on price either, with their cheapest laptop almost double the price of a rival's equivalent.

At Apple, the customer, the end user, is always there in the board room, finance team catch-ups, and chats by the Genius Bar. It's a culture, grown both from the top down and bottom up, that places the customer at its heart. It is this customer centricity that truly sets Apple and certain other organisations, like Amazon or Zappos - apart.

And it is this extraordinary culture that will continue to separate the good from the very best; the latest poll by the Economist Intelligence Unit of over 500 business leaders found that 55% expect to compete primarily on service in 2020, compared to 33% on quality and only 9% on price.

In this Olympic year, Team GB will unfortunately struggle to win gold for customer service. The UK ranks an embarrassing 34th for customer service according to the World Economic Forum, just behind Lithuania. If were going to turn this around, we need to get into training now.

At Mind Gym, weve analysed over 50 academic studies and used the insights from over 20 leaders of customer service to identify the key levers for growing a customer-centric culture.

First, make the customer real and commit to them. A European bank we worked with recently asked a customer to speak at their annual conference. The sight of a little old lady telling the executive directors the story of how poorly shed been treated hit home. The audience gasped, cringed, and left with the sense that this had to change.

Next, attention is infectious. Help spread it think about how it feels when youre the centre of someones attention. When employees feel supported by their colleagues and engaged with their work, theyre more likely to listen to, be patient with and pay attention to customers. This internal climate of service not only predicts customer satisfaction, but also stock price. Win-win.

Case study

Engagement and internal service accurately predicts both customer satisfaction and stock market value. Those in the top quartile significantly outperform those in the bottom quartile have a look at Internal service pays, below.

Mind Gym graph

Lets take the example of Mitchell & Butlers, operator of Browns, All Bar One and other leading bar-restaurants in the UK. In a sector with high turnover and a disengaged workforce, they made changing this culture a strategic priority.

Engagement was identified as the strongest driver of customer service. The engagement climate predicted a veritable smorgasbord of service quality measures, like food quality, average expenditure, employee retention, repeat expenditure and ultimately, profitability.

And when levels of engagement change, the changes in service quality can be predicted. Internal culture drives external service.

Finally, use your managers. Theyre the single most influential factor in changing a culture and driving service quality and the best managers deliver the biggest bang for your buck. But theyre not helping when theyre only reporting on sales targets and figures; when theyre coaching the people who talk directly to customers, they are.

The business case for a customer-centric culture is unequivocal. Its time to wake up and smell the coffee, or Apple juice.

For more information, please visit: www.themindgym.com

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