Customer-Centric? Great, But What About Your Employees?

Don’t Forget About Your Internal Customers

Joseph Emmi

More and more organizations today are shifting towards a 'customer-centric' approach: one where customers are intended to be at the core of everything the company does, influencing and informing their direction, ultimately aiming for better services and experiences in a highly demanding world.

Traditional organizations have realized, sometimes in an abrupt manner, that no one — no matter the industry, size or market-share — is immune to disruption.

What is this all about? It is about providing your customers what they truly want and need. It is about adapting, understanding, and influencing them along the way, creating products and services that add value. It is about listening closely, and engaging regularly.

All of this is great, but what about your employees? Are they also going to be taken under consideration in the same way you are planning to listen to your customers? Are they also going to be provided with great products, services, and experiences?

Some companies are struggling with this, not realizing that the people inside the organization are as important as the customers. They are the individuals performing those activities that support a “customer-centric” strategy. After all, a more engaged workforce could increase customer satisfaction.

Currently, some companies have an over-reliance on technology that is aimed to “magically” fix issues and deliver the desired outcomes for workers. This is the belief that technology itself is going to fix the internal challenges that are not allowing the company to perform accordingly. It is the idea that just giving people what they believe are “the right tools” will automatically lead to an improved operation, where people will be able to do their jobs better, and by consequence, produce positive outcomes.

Tedious Tasks And Frustration Lead To Low Morale And Engagement

Author Jonathan MacDonald in his book, “Powered by Change: How to design your business for perpetual success,” presented a staggering number citing a survey by Gallup that stated that by 2015, 67.2% of U.S. workers were “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their jobs.

Is this the case in your company? Don’t assume, don’t ask, just go and find out by yourself —all it takes is to spend some time with the people doing the job to understand their problems.

Actions, Not Words

When it comes to the people inside the organizations, consideration doesn't mean thinking about them, nor is asking ourselves what they want, and coming with assumptions. Instead, it means asking employees — everyone involved from bottom to the top — and being honest about the real issues and pain points that need to be addressed in order to move forward. It is about cutting a self-imposed "red tape”.

When companies focus more on the way they are going to be doing things, rather than what needs to be done, they are merely thinking from their operational lens. By doing so, they are forgetting that ultimately it is their workers who are receiving those changes and performing those activities.

If the engagement and fulfilment we expect our workforces to have when doing their jobs is not at the core of what we do, then it’s just the expected result of a series of activities and processes.

Instead of debating which technology is best suited, start asking more important questions, such as:

  • What is the real problem that needs to be solved?
  • What do our employees really want and need?
  • What do they value the most?

And ultimately,

  • What does success look like?

Once these questions are raised, companies will be able to properly focus on what really matters and start making decisions that can truly become transformative. If everything that is created is not going to help the user, that means it's likely not significant all. Always remember that the users — your workers— are the ones who are going to need to benefit from it first.

Without considering workers, organizations will continue to implement from an assumed perspective —from goals, objectives, aspirations, and sometimes delusions of those people in charge who will probably never personally experience the outcomes of important decisions. This is not only infeasible, but also out of touch from reality, and it is probably the main reason many companies don’t innovate in the first place.