thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer


By on July 25, 2012

Most writers and speakers about customer service are focused on simply describing it, rather than paying attention to how to create the leadership characteristics that they want companies to develop. Their work seems to manifest itself mostly in generalizations and to imply that those generalizations will always work for your organization. Beware of what seem to be shortcuts.

One topic that is glaringly left out of improvement formulas is the area of undiscussability, a problem which Chris Argyris has done an excellent job of analyzing in Flawed Advice and the Management Trap. Every company has “sacred” areas that can never be mentioned openly or resisted in any way. If policies cannot be challenged or questions asked about why certain approaches are taken or not taken, then those aspects will never be changed. Consequently, companies may be failing or showing signs of stagnation in customer relationships and executives may be missing opportunities to correct these problems early.

A truly customer-centered culture is needed to overcome the risk of an organization holding onto a fragmented system for working with their customers. For leadership to design interventions, it is critical that executives identify the causes of inadequacies and understand how to change them. Otherwise, myopia can set in and the business can lose its edge by becoming inflexible and too internally focused.

The Customer 3D™ system takes organizations that might not even realize they are “stuck” and expands them into a more externally focused direction. It creates a round-the-clock culture in which employees are able to anticipate change by constantly developing pro-active solutions for their customers.



2 Responses to “Undiscussability”

  1. Brian Kane says:

    Some of these sacred areas exist because employees get the message not to talk about them or because they fear the consequences of bringing up an issue. I imagine that being customer centered involves having a company culture that allows employees to engage in serious conversation without being threatened or worried they'll say the wrong thing.

  2. Bill Self says:

    You're correct. When cultures develop in which "that's the way we have always done it" or "the boss is always right", then organizations can claim to be customer-centered because they are not hearing any opposition to that position. Leaders slip into a mode in which they believe there is no reason to change, even though the company's growth may be slower than it should be. It takes courage and openness to allow the status quo to be challenged.

    Thanks for the feedback.


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