They do say that adversity reveals the true character of a person or organisation, rather than hides it.
And this can be seen in so many organisations in times of stress and difficulty: what do they cut and what is sacrosanct? How do they behave to their teams and customers? How do they treat their suppliers?
Now, as a leader or manager in an independent organisation, you need to pay bills, you need to invest in sales and marketing and there are a million and one financial and other obligations.
To put it bluntly: it’s easy to say ‘We need to be customer focused’ … but it’s MUCH harder to do it, and to do it consistently.
The idea for this blog came to me when I saw the attached photo from Timpsons: of course this is a great offer and a great piece of marketing … but it’s also a lot more than that: it’s a clear demonstration that this company is truly customer focused from the roots to the leaves.
This is NOT just a one-off gimmick to get publicity or to drum up trade in hard times: this is their entire and deep-rooted philosophy.
How do I know this? Just one look at their website tells me the answer: they talk about ‘Upside down management’, ‘Colleagues’ and ‘No head office’
And this is all summed up by their ‘Mission’:
- Great services by great people
Which, to me, means:
- The only way that we can be sure to get loyal customers and continually innovate and grow is by genuinely delivering services that are judged by the customer as ‘great’ … and the only way we can do this is by having the best people, operating the best systems and listening to what they have to say and responding effectively to it.
And, then, all this results in high levels of customer loyalty and attraction, continual innovation and development, and … because of all this … long term profitability, stability and continual growth.
So: sounds easy doesn’t it?
Well if it was that easy, then everyone would be doing it: the reason why we find Timpson so remarkable, is because they’re so unusual.
Most independent business leaders would probably agree that they want high levels of customer loyalty and attraction, continual innovation and development, and … because of all this … long term profitability, stability and continual growth.
But so few get the formula really right.
And that’s what ‘Slow Selling’ was written to do: provide the formula and then a step by step approach.
My personal opinion is that they key start point is:
- Upside down management
Which means, in practical terms:
- Saying that the customer comes first – and if we get it right for them (and only then) will the profits flow effectively and continually.
- Recognising that the ‘internal customer’ is the only route to make this happen – because they are dealing with your customer every day … not you.
- Making sure you recruit the best possible people.
- Setting up feedback and continual improvement systems from both the internal and external customers.
Quite a lot to do then! And each step is fraught with difficulty.
And it definitely isn’t a quick fix!!!
So: what’s my one tip from this blog, that you can take away and start taking action on?
I suggest that you start with yourself:
- If what I’ve written here fires you with enthusiasm, then read on
- If you agree with it intellectually but not emotionally, this probably isn’t right for you
Assuming you’re emotionally engaged and want to take steps, the first step is to:
- Find the mission, in simple, timeless words, that expresses what you really want … then start to find ways to live it on a daily basis (which is all what we help you with!).
In practical steps:
- Find some words that describe your feelings and beliefs and where you want the business to go (use examples like Timpson to help you)
- Share these thoughts with your people: ask them for their thoughts
- Ask your most valuable customers for their thoughts
- Mix it all together and start to distil it into a simple, guiding, timeless ‘customer focused mission’
Then, and only then, can you start to practise ‘upside down management’ because you have a compass to guide you all in your decisions and disagreements. Then you’ll be on the right path to becoming truly customer focused.
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