Deliver surprise factor to customers and be rewarded

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand chief executive Lee White says that a focus on customers should be part ...
JAMES HORAN/SUPPLIED

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand chief executive Lee White says that a focus on customers should be part of the fabric of every organisation.

Lee White FCA chief executive, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

OPINION: Every business on earth says it is customer focused – from the corner cafe to the high street bank. As a membership organisation representing over 115,000 Chartered Accountants worldwide, we are no exception.

Theory has it that if you combine customer insight, with a great relationship management ethos and a healthy serving of focused marketing you've got a good recipe to give your customers what they want. But, I have found despite having all those things in place, customer-centricity – our ability to delight – can fall short. Why is that?

My belief is that a focus on customers should be part of the fabric of every organisation. It means creating an organisational culture that allows assumptions to be challenged and is open to breaking routine ways of thinking. As a leader you have to live and breathe this approach and encourage your people to do the same.

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So how does this benefit customer centricity? Real customer centricity is about listening – really listening, to what customers are trying to achieve and then finding new and interesting ways to help them reach those goals. When you do this successfully, you create what I call the surprise factor.

When I hear one of our members say "I wasn't expecting that from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand." I know that we've got our formula right. You will only hear that kind of statement when you are able to fulfil a need. Even better is when you're able to deliver a solution to a need someone may not have even known they had. 

Every customer will have different challenges and for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand one of the things we constantly challenge ourselves to think about is what will our members need from us to continue to be trusted business leaders and operating at their personal best in the future. What will they need to navigate? What are the implications for the profession?  And, how can we equip them to provide the best business advice for customers or employers?  

There is a complexity and simplicity to customer-centricity almost in equal measure. In paying attention to the simple things you can surprise and delight customers. When you are away from home travelling think of the comfort that you get in returning to a hotel that knows your name, the newspaper you usually read and has the paperwork all pre-sorted. This simple attention to detail can speak volumes to your customer. 

My thinking to get you well on the way is to trust your intuition, don't make assumptions, keep it simple, listen to your customers (they will tell you what they think anyway especially through social media) and above all, be genuine. Your customers will love you for it.

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