Raving Fan Customers: Creating Customer Focused Teams Part 4

Customer Focus, Feedback and Service Strategy To create customer-focused teams, employees must understand that they win when the customer wins;  there is more to this positioning than meets the eye.  The customer win has to be defined so that the company also wins.  If you ask customers what they want, they will tell you I want the service and product for nothing.  Typically companies cannot stay in business by doing this.  So the raving fan service strategy needs to be designed so that the company and its employees can deliver.  Back to Apple, their products are easy to use and their informed employees can teach consumers how to use their products.  All this conspires to make many raving fan Apple customers.  Every service strategy needs to be designed so that this concept is constantly reinforced. The front line (people who directly impact the customer) has to get feedback so that they can: Know what it is doing right in creating raving fan customers Know what it is doing that is not working Coordinate and fix problems with other departments that impact the delivery of raving fan customer service Ensure that the customer consistently perceives great value from the product and service that they are getting.   Two challenges exist in creating successful, high performance, customer focused teams.  The first challenge is getting the voice of the customer clearly delivered to the front line regarding the service or product.  Therefore, it is important to create forums and opportunities for the front line to listen to the customer.  The other challenge is to make sure everyone understands the standards by which...

Raving Fan Customers: Creating Customer Focused Teams Part 3

Why are Raving Fans a good thing? Ask Zappos, ask Southwest Airlines, ask Apple, ask Jimmie Buffett and ask CMI (that is us). What companies do not have competition? When you earn raving fan customers you have a strategic advantage over your competition. You have customers that are going to buy from you no matter what. In essence your company becomes a monopoly. This is the ultimate positioning from a business perspective. One frequently sees this with Apple’s iPhones. Apple customers are disdainful of any other smartphone product and are absolutely loyal to Apple – no matter what – even when Chinese workers might be suffering. Apple Customers say “Heck, Apple might need to change some Chinese employment tactics, but no way am I giving up my iPhone!” For more information about creating raving fans click here....

Raving Fan Customers: Creating Customer Focused Teams Part 2

What is a Raving Fan Customer? I first saw this term used in the book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard. A “raving fan customer” is a customer that is excited about the company’s service delivery and product way beyond normal. Raving fan customers remain loyal given price pressure from a given service’s competition. These customers would go through a lot to get the company’s service. Even a price increase would keep these raving fans loyal buyers. Raving fan customers would wait in long lines; pay extra shipping fees; all for the service or product that their favorite company offers. For more information about creating raving fan customers click...

Raving Fan Customers: Creating Customer Focused Teams Part I

What is a Customer Focused Team? The word “team” is overused in business; it gets applied to any group of humans in a work setting. However, when you define a team as everything, you end up with nothing. The best and most concise definition for corporate teams I have found comes from The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith. They define a team as “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” The crucial words are “common purpose” and “mutually accountable.” Without these, you don’t have a team. In addition, for a team to exist there has to be adversity, challenge and tension between the team and attaining a common purpose. No adversity and challenge means no team. You do not need teams for easy tasks. Tough challenges and high performance standards, such as those associated with customer service, quality and profitability are essential for teams to come together and coalesce. Having customers consistently be raving fans of the company’s service is certainly a challenging and lofty goal. For more information about customer focused teams click...

The Fifth Truth About Teams

Teams develop in stages. It is good for participants to be aware of these stages because they normalize the experience of growing and developing into a high performance team. The stages are as follows: Stage A – This is the birth of the group and there is typically some excitement and anticipation about the potential and possibility of the group. Stage B – This is when reality sets in about how group life can be demanding and hard work. It is no longer fun and there is finger pointing between employees. Mutual accountability by most is seen as an empty concept and team members look at who to blame. This is where most teams die and where there is the need for the most support and focus. Commitment needs to be generated to work through the issues. This is also where the employee’s love of the game is needed and counted. For most groups Stage B is where the real work counts and is necessary. Stage C – Getting behind the game stage. This is when everyone begins to align behind the group performance and what needs to happen in order to allow the group to succeed. Real group performance results are for the first time seen. Stage D – This is the high performance stage, where the team is really using its group structure to produce some remarkable results. For help transitioning to Stage D, click...

The Fourth Truth About Teams

In sports, different games constitute different types of teams. Soccer, because of the nature of the game, will require a different type of team than baseball. Work related teams are similar. Depending on the work output of the team and the dynamics of the workplace, the type of work team that is required is different. The rules and dynamics that govern the work team will also be different. For help picking the right team for your project click...

The Third Truth About Teams

  The definition of real teams from The Wisdom of Teams by John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith is accurate. They define teams as a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and working approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Real teams are a basic unit of performance. Mischief comes from team members who are equally responsible for the result. This is quite different than how most of the work world is organized. In the typical work place, each employee is accountable for their job and they are often formally measured on their performance in the yearly appraisal process. No group or team performance is formally measured or expected. The pretense is that if each employee just does his or her thing it will work out perfectly. Unfortunately the work world is more complicated and in many cases customers are impacted by a group of employees. When a group takes on being mutually accountable for their customers’ experiences, the group can generate profit and customer loyalty. Looking to generate mutual accountability? Click...

The Second Truth About Teams

Teams enjoy and play games. The vast majority of employees go to work because they have to in order to survive. That is the culture most adults live in. This is different than in the world of sports. People voluntarily play the sport because they want to and like the game.   When members of teams fundamentally do not like the games or feel connected to the game the group is playing, there will be real performance issues for the group. However, when teams of employees are into the game of making their customers raving fans, magic occurs, and they start enjoying the game. Looking to enhance work team performance?  Click...

The First Truth about Teams

The essence of good work team performance is not good communication or good relationships but a focus on performance and an agreed upon appreciation of what this means. Typically in the work place people relate to each other socially. This means they are concerned with getting along and staying out of each others hair. This is not how team players relate to each other. Basically, the difference is between how one relates to people at a barbecue and how one relates to the work group who is trying to win a big contract. The nature of the relationships is quite different. The first is based on the social context of let’s all just get along while the latter is based on the context of let’s get something remarkable done and perform together so that specific results occur. Looking to create a performance oriented culture in your workplace? Click...

Creating High Performance Teams

Performance within groups typically does not just happen. For a group to really perform well it needs practice. The group needs to understand the best way to organize itself for performance. This concept is commonly understood by sports teams and the military. They clearly see the need to give groups opportunities to practice. Boot Camp for the military and pre-season workouts for sports teams are the norm. It is interesting to note in business that there is far less interest or appreciation of group development and the need for practice. Team practice, for the most part, is not factored into the business or corporate world. We form groups in business and march them into the corporate battle zone expecting them to perform and when they fail we are surprised. This whole process was once again revealed to me as my business, CMI, went through the process of putting together a high performance work team. In 2008, we expanded our organization by one. A full 25% change in our employee numbers. This growth caused a change in our work mix and demands. In essence, we needed less administrative work and more research and marketing. As we went through the expansion process, some basic truths about teams, groups, and performance helped me traverse this territory.  Over the next few weeks, I will highlight some of these basic truths. For more information about CMI, click...