Man, I love entrepreneurs. There is no group more fun to hang out with. As a member of Entrepreneur’s Organization, I hang out with entrepreneurs regularly.
Every one of them is full of passion, energy and contagious excitement. For most, their drive is the uncompromising belief that the old way of doing things must be toppled.
So what happens? Entrepreneurs grow. As they grow, their focus becomes fragmented. Soon, if they’re not careful, they can quickly adopt those very same tired organizational habits they’ve made it their mission to destroy.
Maybe you’ve seen customer experience mistakes in your own organization. Sometimes they’re disguised as other actions:
So here are the customer experience pitfalls entrepreneurs’ should avoid as you grow.
Your mission must focus on the customer’s experience.
Every company begins its journey with the who instead of the what. Most products are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, so most entrepreneurs are successful because of who they are.
When you began, the music you heard from a customers mouth was simply: “Buy from (insert your name here).” But if you had to manage every customer, you’d become very limited in your growth potential. So you introduced employees and processes. Suddenly the experience your customers were “buying” was no longer available to them.
So this is where a mission focused on customer experience becomes vital. If you don’t tell your employees what to deliver, they’ll make it up as they go along.
The best companies foster a single-minded mission (including metrics) that revolves around the customer.
Hire for attitude.
There’s an old saying: “We hire for skills and fire for attitude.” However, we firmly believe it should be the other way around. The right skills will never save you from the wrong person.
Too often, as you grow, you need help. So you hire the first person with the right skills on their resume. But even though your culture is built FOR you customer, it’s built BY your people. The right people get it. And they get it without you standing over their shoulder. They understand what it means to deliver a great experience. And it’s rarely about exceptional customer service. It’s more often about just making the customer’s life easier. Understanding your customer experience and making it your mission will help you attract and hire these types of employees.
We post our values on our Careers section for everyone to see. When you see it, it’s very clearly not for everyone. And its very clearly focused on WHO we are looking for rather than WHAT we’re looking for.
Stop parading your sales people around like rock stars.
Maybe that was too harsh. Sales people’s successes should be celebrated, but they should be celebrated just like everyone else’s successes.
This stems from the early days of our entreprenuership. Back then, sales were not just the key to growth, they were the key to survival. So eventually, the thrill of the hunt became addictive. The high of closing those sales.
But it you’re still treating your sales team kings and everyone else as “the help,” consider changing the priorities. A customer experience focus includes every step of the customer’s purchase journey. Customer fans are easier to work with, more understanding of the occasional mistake, and the most effective tool in your marketing arsenal. Continually improve your customer experience touchpoints and the growth will follow.
There should only be one celebrity in your company: your customer.
Calmly back away from the business.
Ah, we are so attached to our business as entrepreneurs. So attached, we often become a bottleneck for change. You founded the company and it worked really well. Why should you change?
Because your customers change. The market changes. Their options change. You have to change too. This is one of the key customer experience mistakes. For your business to grow, it must grow with customer needs. You should continuously be innovating their experience.
Customer experience isn’t a project, it’s a mission.
We’ve witnessed too many companies who assume they already know their customers. However, when we ask when they talked to customers last, we receive a blank stare. Or occasionally, we see the results of a survey they sent out to customers.
Successful companies do more than survey. They continually create conversations with customers. They map the customer experience through their purchase journey. The listen to the feedback and they make changes, even when those changes are painful.
Entrepreneurs, share with everyone the steps you’ve taken to deliver an amazing customer experience.