Breakdown of "Accountability" as a Principle for Customer-Centricity
The Digital Leader Newsletter — Strategies and Techniques for Change Agents, Strategists, and Innovators.
… Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
- Never Gonna Let You Down by Rick Astley
Talking about customer-centricity is energizing and an easy rally cry — who would argue with “we want to become more customer-centric!”. Not many.
And while that is true, the paradox is that not many know how to actually transform to being a customer-centric organization. Don’t fear — The Digital Leader Newsletter is giving you a full playbook for customer-centricity!
Building a strategy and culture based on customer-centricity is not a hollow promise, it is not easy, it is not perfect, and it certainly needs a playbook. One part of that playbook is a set of principles, tenets, or rules (although I dissuade you from rules) guiding the particular goals and implementation of customer-centricity for your organization.
In an earlier newsletter, I outlined twenty-two potential candidate principles for customer-centricity. This is not a proposal to adopt twenty-two principles, but to contribute the full list of potential principles as a starting point for you to consider.
The first principle outlined is this:
1. Accountability -- We take accountability for ensuring the realization of the full benefit of our customer’s use of our products (services). We do not point the finger at others. We develop strategies and aggressive plans to expand our reach and influence to achieve this goal.
The focus of this week’s newsletter is on the customer-centricity principle of Accountability as a pillar for strategy and culture.
All That I Promise
What is your promise to your customer? Is it clear and explicit? Do your customers know the promise you make? Are you willing to be held accountable for delivering to that promise? Can you track it, measure it and manage for improvement?
Are you willing to be ACCOUNTABLE?
When we say “take accountability for ensuring the full benefits realization of our customers use of our products”, one word jumping out is the word “ensuring”. Some of our stakeholders might want a less committed word. Perhaps a word like “hope” or “strive”. Ensuring is a strong word insisting that we have to figure out what promise we made to the customer and know in a factual way if we hit that promise.
Unpacking “ensuring the full benefits realization” leads to “in the perfect world”…
We would need complete information regarding the customer situation and the context of using our product or service
It would require us to make specific commitments and promises to the customer
Specific measurement capabilities are required so we can test and evaluate if we met the promises and customer benefits realization
If we communicate clear branding, value proposition, and capabilities, and have the means to measure both the inputs (did we hit these commitments) and customer benefits (did we help the customer achieve what they really wanted to achieve), then we have the capabilities to be accountable.
What does it mean to “be accountable?”. Being accountable means simply this — it is easily understood who in the organization owns the promise and the measures AND it is our culture for people to pursue corrections and improvements for their owned customer promises — regardless of organization charts.
An Example — The Perfect Order Promise
Amazon has a concept of a “POP” metric – perfect order percentage. A “perfect order” is the promise that your order is “perfect”.
For sellers to obtain a Perfect Order status, they must accept, process, and fulfill a buyer’s order without any incident. The Perfect Order Percentage (POP) score is calculated by considering the following factors:
The POP score is calculated as follows: Take the number of perfect orders in the previous 90 days and divide that number by the total number of orders received during that time period. Amazon recognizes that different categories may be subject to lower POP scores based on the nature of the merchandise. For example, clothing and shoes may incur more product returns, since people return items that do not fit, and that will likely increase the return and refund rates as calculated for the POP score. That said, Amazon also recommends that sellers maintain POP scores of 95 percent or higher.
Potential mechanisms (actions, habits, and tools) we instill to live this principle could include
Develop a list of the specific promises we make to customers
Quickly build current benchmarks and insights to current status on delivering to that promise
Develop specific strategies for the capabilities, promises, and commitments which would be strategic additions for our competitive positioning, resulting in a portfolio of programs to be undertaken which are the “strategies and aggressive plans”
The “we do not point the finger at others” statement is a way of saying we never end up with a “well there’s no way we can accomplish this” situation. We adopt a “Get to Yes” mentality and need all of our support and partner organizations (like legal, HR, etc) to adopt a “Get to Yes” mindset. Our communication plan needs to reflect this and is the most important “mechanism” we have for setting the expectation on this mindset.
Summary & Homework
This is a bedrock customer-centricity principle as it is the one that sets up everything else. This principle is, in some manners, the REAL strategy of customer-centricity.
Your homework is simple — does your company make and keep customer commitments? How do you know this? Are you willing to be accountable?
If this homework makes you utter “oh shit, what have we committed to???” — that’s good. Our mission is to transform the organization through customer-centricity. Think big and dramatic — to change an existing organization, the future state, the rules, and the behavior have to be clearly stated and different from the current state.
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About The Digital Leader Newsletter
This is a newsletter for change agents, strategists, and innovators. The Digital Leader Newsletter is a weekly coaching session with a focus on customer-centricity, innovation, and strategy. We deliver practical theory, examples, tools, and techniques to help you build better strategies, better plans, better solutions — but most of all, to think and communicate better.