Should you really tell your sales team not to sell?
In her latest blog, Sarra explains how customer centricity was at the heart of SmartPA’s beginnings (though she didn’t realise it at the time) and shares her top 5 tips for creating a customer centric culture.
I confess that when I first started out in business I’d never heard of a ‘customer centric culture’. Back then, with all the confidence of youth, I’d had my ‘lightbulb’ moment. I’d looked at the Admin, PA, and Business Support sector and spotted a gap in the market that left me with a burning desire to transform the perception and value of the profession.
There I was, just bursting with energy to create my global brand and inspired by my vision of unleashing the potential of thousands of businesses by offering them a plug and play support service. So far so good.
But then came another, more sobering, lightbulb moment; I suddenly realised I needed clients. And to win clients I’d need to ‘sell’. As I wasn’t passionate about selling (to put it mildly) this put a temporary dampener on my enthusiasm.
“I realised what should have been blindingly obvious - I only needed one client.”
However, after a few days of reflection, I realised what should have been blindingly obvious - I only needed one client. If I delivered impactful service to this one client, if I added value by delivering an experience that truly made a difference to them by freeing them and their leadership team to focus on growing their business, then I could build a long-term relationship with them. Above all, I knew it wasn’t about selling my client a fixed service; I needed to listen to them, so that I could identify smarter ways of working and deliver a solution that really delivered value.
I understood that if I did this then, crucially, they’d tell people about it and recommend the service to their friends, family, customers, and suppliers.
And that’s exactly how SmartPA grew our client base. I didn’t realise it at the time, but we’d done it by adopting a customer centric culture.
Many years down the road, and as we work with businesses of all sizes around the globe, a customer centric culture remains front and centre of our growth strategy. This culture has evolved and become embedded in the roots of how we operate, make decisions, and recruit our people. It drives our business improvements and helps define our product development roadmap.
At SmartPA our growth strategy is a sustainable one, and one that has laser-sharp focus on growing from within. This growth happens by creating an impact for each client and delivering an exceptional service that makes our clients want to work with us (and grow with us) for years to come.
“Today we’re in the age of the empowered customer. No matter the size of your business, every decision needs to be fuelled by your customer’s lens.”
Customer centricity is often seen as a term for focusing on customer satisfaction, customer experience, and customer feedback. At SmartPA we believe that being truly customer centric is about even more than that. It’s not just about making your customers happy and it’s not enough to assume you know what your customers need. It means putting your customer at the heart of your business and making all your business decisions with your customers in mind.
There was a time when customers had fewer choices, and brands could get away with delivering mediocre service. Not anymore. Today we’re in the age of the empowered customer. No matter the size of your business, every decision needs to be fuelled by your customer’s lens, guided by their feedback, and driven by their expectations of your business.
A successful customer culture is not the sole responsibility of the client success or service team. Creating delighted customers is the responsibility of every single individual in the company, whether they’re in operations, finance, sales, marketing, etc. The entire organisation must be aligned to each customer and fully understand their needs.
The key building block for a successful customer centric business is a happy, passionate team.
You can’t fake customer centricity. Ensure your reason for being (your organisational purpose, vision, mission, why, etc) is crystal clear. Ensure you attract people who naturally and enthusiastically buy into this. Successful modern businesses are driven by people who want to go that extra mile for the cause; people who are excited and inspired about making a difference for each client.
Providing high-quality learning and support to your people should be a given for every business. But it’s just as important to reward talent, commitment, and hard work. Always celebrate positive feedback from clients and give kudos to team members. In short, let your people know the impact they’re making for your clients, and bring these stories to life to inspire and to learn from.
In our technologically advanced world, obtaining accurate data is critical if we’re to understand our persona demographics. Surveys and customer loyalty measurements help us analyse large volumes of data and assess trends so that we can effectively develop our products or services.
But do you know what? The most powerful customer approach of all is to pick up the phone. Speak, listen, and get to know your customers if you want to build deeper, stronger relationships, create customer chemistry, and truly understand the needs of your customers.
That might sound a bit dramatic, so let me explain.
At SmartPA, one of the most important elements in our customer centric culture is our sales team. Their role is not to sell as such; they’re there to truly understand our clients and their needs, and to define the results and impact that our clients are striving to achieve. Only when we’ve asked the right questions to shine a spotlight on all our client’s issues can we provide the right solutions.
Of course, this can be challenging. The tendency is to immediately provide the client with a solution, but if you try to do this before understanding the client’s true needs then you’re limiting your ability to provide the correct solution. Inevitably – perhaps not now but in the near future – your client will realise they’ve not received the solution they need. The result: an unhappy client and a lost opportunity to add another advocate for your business.
SmartPA is a pioneer of remote, outsourced admin and business support, providing individual SmartPAs, multi-skilled cross-functional teams, and full lift and drop admin process outsourcing. Working with more than 5,000 businesses of all sizes world-wide, SmartPA draws on a global talent pool of accredited SmartPAs, with a Centre of Excellence based in the UK, near shore hubs in South Africa and Uganda, and an offshore hub in Malaysia.