The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it - Leadership & Strategy
Factor 1. Leadership and Strategy
Earlier I wrote about what I believe to be the Customer Loyalty Code. I suggested that it was:
I then gave a short explanation of what it meant, but promised to provide more details in later papers. Well here is the first of those papers about the extra detail. The first factor is Leadership + Strategy so here’s an overview of what I had in mind when I was referring to 'Leadership'.
Anyone who’s studied the Ken Blanchard approach to what he describes as ‘Situational Leadership’ will know that he believes that a great leader is able to adapt his or her style to suit the needs of the situation. Well its the same here. The right leader will be one who is able to provide the style of leadership that is appropriate to the creation of a highly service focussed organisation. By that I mean a style of leadership that will bring out the best colleague and customer service behaviours in all people. There are many elements to this, more than there is space for in this paper, however here are a few of the key ones I’ve witnessed during my work with great service leaders and would therefore recommend.
Approachable – Someone that people are comfortable around and have no fear of approaching with personal issues, business improvement ideas or problems.
Value Driven – Great leaders are driven by great values. Their behaviour is determined by what they believe to be noble human behaviours and the example they set inspires others to emulate them and their style of leadership.
Integrity – Integrity is a key to trust, which is vital in all relationships. No one will trust a person who is not honest, open and candid. A great leader is someone who says what they mean, means what they say and is true to their values.
Inspirational – Different people can be inspirational in different ways. Some are gregarious, others are less so. The style may vary, but a great leader will be able to inspire loyalty and the desire and motivation in people to achieve things they may not have believed possible. (In his book with the same title, Dr Stephen Covey called this ‘The 8th Habit’.)
Consistent – People want in their leader a person with whom they ‘know where they are and what to expect’. Not someone who regularly ‘blows hot and cold’ over the same issues. A consistent leader sets a steady direction which people are happy to follow. (more about this in Vision, below)
Vision – I’m a fan of the John Kotter approach to leadership. I’ve seen it working extremely well in many organisations. He believes the first job of a leader is to set the direction for an organisation or group of people. For it to make a worthwhile difference, that direction needs to be something that will stretch people, needing them to bring the best of their abilities, and be something that they believe is worthy of their efforts. That’s a tall order, but a great leader will have the ability to create and elucidate such a Vision.
I’m also a fan of Simon Sinek, and his thoughts about how important knowing ‘why’ we are doing what we do is to the success of any organisation. A great leader will therefore make the ‘why’, otherwise known as the ‘purpose’ of our work, clear and understood by everyone. This is much harder to to do than it might first appear. Anyone who’s done it will know this. ‘What’ we do, and ‘How’ we do it, is quite easy to establish. But ‘Why’ we do it is much more difficult. It’s all to easy to come up with something trite, like ‘we save the world’ or ‘we improve humanity’, but to create something that is relevant to the organisation and what it does, succinct, easily understood, uplifting and worthy of peoples efforts…….that takes time and skill.
Alignment – There’s no point in creating a worthy vision and purpose if the leader is not then able to get everyone in the organisation, or at least the vast majority of people, aligned by a commitment to work together to make it happen. That requires a determination to make sure all people understand the purpose and vision, the reasons why they matter to the future of the organisation, and how everyone can make a worthwhile contribution to making that better future a reality.
This is never done from behind a desk. Nor is it done by e-mails, intranet posts or internal marketing posters. It can only be done by regularly getting out amongst people and discussing it with them. Allowing them to question the wisdom, and being able to convince them of its virtue.
Execution – John Kotter calls the next stage Inspiration and Motivation, but I think its better explained as Execution. You could call it making the dream come true. The key is to be prepared to do whatever it takes to make the necessary things happen for success, even if they hurt in the short term. That will require Inspiration and Motivation, but in my experience it needs a lot more besides.
It also needs the necessary resources being available, systems and processes being revised or scrapped if necessary to support the vision, work force education to develop the new knowledge and skills they will need, constant monitoring of the results to ensure they stay on track, and the stamina to stick at it and see it through.
Not every leader will be great at all these; different people always have different strengths; however, a great service leader is likely to be good at most of them, and will find people to work along side who have the necessary strengths in their areas of weakness.
© Copyright Chris Daffy
- 4/10/2016:The Customer Loyalty Account
- 7/3/2017:The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it!
- 20/7/2016:The Challenge of Service Recovery
- 21/2/2017:The Takeaways From A Great Event
- 28/2/2017:The Workings of a Customer Loyalty Account