Last month I seized the opportunity to see Bas Hoogland speak with both hands. Bas has been the commercial director of Landal GreenParks for 19 years. Bas managed to enthrall his audience for an hour. In a relaxed manner, he explained how Landal puts customer-focused entrepreneurship into practice and he illustrated this with stories and examples. With this, he gave a good impression of Landal’s customer-oriented culture.
In many organizations, culture is still quite an issue. A client of mine recently said that he wanted to change the culture in the company into a customer-oriented culture. When I asked him what such a culture looks like, how it feels, smells, and how it sounds, what people in such a culture do and don’t do, it started to become more difficult. When I asked him how he would describe the current culture, he described flawlessly what’s wrong and came to the conclusion: “Culture does not match our values”.
Does This Culture Fit?
Together we concluded that there is a culture that must have originated somewhere and that, even though it does not fit in with the values, has been given room to develop and strengthen. It has never been formulated by anyone, it has never been decided, and it has never been rolled out in full force. And yet it is there. In this way, all organizations have their own culture. The question we increasingly ask ourselves as professionals in customer-oriented entrepreneurship is: does this culture match our values and does it contribute to the realization of our objectives?
In a customer-oriented culture, everything starts and ends with the customer in mind: why do we do this, what does the customer notice and how happy does it make the customer? This starts with a conviction that happy customers ensure better results. And that happy employees ensure happy customers. These beliefs form the basis for everything. The customers form the compass for the choices that the organization makes and for the actions of all employees.
Culture is Behavior
To get there, customer satisfaction must be part of the company’s values. All employees are aware of the meaning of happy customers. Employees are rewarded for happy customers. All employees come into contact with customers. And they enjoy it to satisfy the customers and each other. You can write this down as a mission and hang it on the wall, but this does not change any culture. More important is that you do it. Culture is behavior.
Customer-Oriented Culture Requires Exemplary Behavior
One of the aspects of creating a customer-oriented culture that Bas Hoogland highlighted, is exemplary behavior. Very simple: does the management itself show that it puts into practice what it preaches? A customer-oriented culture requires more than that, but it is certainly a factor of importance. Organizations and teams that distinguish themselves positively from others in terms of customer focus are, without exception, led by a leader who also shows that the customer stands on one. Together with the employees.
Frans Reichardt | The Customer Listener