As a business owner or leader, do you ever hope that your brand, your company, your products or services just blend in with the rest of your competition?
Do you aim to be the company where people see what they do as “just a job”? Where employees have no real sentiment and devotion for their role or the business?
Of course not!
Most business owners and leaders would strive to build a brand their customer crave and a company their employees are passionate to work for.
Those are the goals (or at least they should be), but getting there is an entirely different story. In order to achieve both of these goals (which are equally important to the long-term success of your company) you must understand that there are 3 principles involved.
Principle #1 You must first understand that the biggest challenge all businesses are facing is indifference. Yes, indifference. Not profits, or scaling, or great marketing, and so on. As important as they all are, those are all either bi-products or add-ons to what your main focus should be. Solving Indifference.
You see, the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. And indifference shows up in two different (but related) ways.
You have indifferent customers when there is no compelling reason for them to buy your product or service rather than your competitors’. When there is nothing unique about your brand, your products, how you serve people, then people will neither love nor hate your business. You will just blend in. They will be indifferent towards you.
You have indifferent employees when there is no compelling reason for them to be passionate about getting out of bed and coming to work each day. This happens when your business does not serve a strong purpose, or when you have a culture of complacency (i.e. “This is how we have always done it around here”). In these scenarios, people neither love nor hate their job, it’s just a job. They are indifferent.
Understanding that these are the two biggest challenges your business should be focused on solving (continuously) is critical to your long-term success.
This brings us to the next principle.
Principle #2 Since indifferent customers and employees are the main challenges you need to be focused on, that means your two main goals should be to a) build a brand that customers crave and b) build a company that people are passionate to work for.
In order to meet these goals, your business must be built on the foundation of being as customer centric and innovative (CCI) as possible.
The principle here is to strive to be a business that is rooted in the principles, tools, and strategies required to allow you to understand as much about WHO your customers are, WHY they purchase your products or service, WHAT their challenges are, and HOW you can solve those challenges. Investing in these areas, and continuously improving in these areas, is what will set you apart from your competition while creating a brand and a culture that both your customers and your employees will notice (in a good way!).
When a company is designed to be all about understanding their customers (customer centric) and finding new and better ways to serve them (innovative) then they have reached what I like to call the Magic Quadrant of CCI.
But doing this, and getting to this magic quadrant is not easy. It requires you to put a focus on customer centric innovation in the 3 most important parts of your business.
This brings us to the third and final principle.
Principle #3 There are 3 main building blocks, or pillars, that all companies must be firmly planted on, in order to build a successful long-term business.
The 3 pillars of every CCI company - Purpose and Direction - Team Collaboration - Individual Skills and Behaviours
When the purpose and direction of your company is one that is both outward focussed (i.e. all about your customers and the problem you solve, not about you, your products, or services) and about a better future (i.e. the status quo is not good enough, you are striving for improvement and maybe even a level that is not realistically attainable) then you purpose is both customer centric and innovative.
This will mean something. To both your customers and your employees.
When you have a solid purpose for your business that is built on the principles of CCI, you then need to have ways for your team to work together towards that purpose. The tools, the strategies, the practices that you intentionally invest in will tell a lot about your business and whether or not you are truly customer centric and innovative.
Do you invest in tools and practices that will help you better understand your customers? If not, are you really a customer centric company?
Do you invest in understanding and implementing principles and practices that will create a culture of innovation in your teams? If not, are you really an innovative company?
When you put a priority on investing in these tools, strategies, principles and practices, then you are setting yourself up to truly live out your company purpose.
Then comes your people. If you really want to have these customer centric and innovative tools and strategies come to life, you need to have the right skills and behaviours within your business to take you there.
Do you intentionally look for the competencies required in team members that will fit in and heighten your CCI culture? Traits like empathy, humility, creativity, and engagement come to mind.
Are you intentionally motivating your team members to display these traits and incentivizing them when they do?
A CCI culture does not happen by accident, it is cultivated through deliberate intentions.
So, as a business owner or leader, do you want to build a brand customers crave and a company people are passionate to work for? Put these 3 principles into practice in your business to create a formula for long-term success.
Author: Dennis Geelen
Dennis is the Founder of Zero In and author of the best selling book The Zero In Formula. With a background of over 20 years in senior leadership and strategic planning, Dennis helps companies to be more customer centric while building a culture of innovation. His goal is to help as many businesses build a brand customers crave and company where people are passionate to work.