I am going to start this post with a question you might find a little obvious – ‘do you know what the PURPOSE of your business is?’ Whilst it may be an obvious question, it is a remarkably important one. It is also a question that, from experience, I know many people find difficult to answer.
Being very conscious of the continued risk of stating the obvious, it is extremely important for any organisation to have a real sense of clarity and understanding of the reason why they exist. There is no right or wrong answer to the question – there is only the appropriate answer for the organisation being asked the question. The answer may be to develop and deliver innovative technology to the consumer. It may be to offer the largest range of a particular type of product in a sector. It may be to manufacture the highest quality products for the lowest price. Whatever it is, there is no denying that everyone in an organisation having an understanding of its purpose is important.
A ‘business purpose’ is quite frankly a description of why a business exists. If it is unable to fulfill its purpose, then it is questionable whether a business will continue to exist. The business purpose is the starting point – it is how an organisation starts its life – it is from this purpose that everything else follows. If the purpose becomes cloudy or muddled, so will everything else that follows. Without clarity of purpose, it is like a jigsaw puzzle with no picture and missing pieces – what is the point?!
If the business purpose is the starting point, what is the end point? The ‘end point’ is the Customer Experience. Every business is delivering a Customer Experience today…… whether it is conscious of it or not. The better able a business is of connecting its purpose with the resulting Customer Experience will determine just how capable that business is of delivering an experience that the customer expects.
So the simple challenge is to successfully make the connection – the connection between the business purpose and the Customer Experience. One of the key reasons why so many of us have experiences that fail to meet our expectations is that there is often a very significant connection MISSING – and that connection is more often than not the absence of a CUSTOMER STRATEGY.
Most organisations do not find it difficult to develop a business strategy. Often led by spreadsheets and numbers, the strategy is all about revenue and cost and moving the numbers in said spreadsheets in a desired direction. All too often, the business strategy is developed without any reference to the customer or the experience that the business intends the customer to have. Without a customer strategy, supported by customer metrics that represent how the business intends to improve the relationship with customers that as a result connects the Customer to the business strategy, an organisation runs the very real risk of not connecting its purpose to the Customer Experience.
It can be strongly argued that the recent trials and tribulations of retail giant Tesco is a good example of what I am describing. If Tesco had retained a strong connection between its purpose and the Customer Experience, linking BOTH their business strategy AND their Customer Strategy to the Customer Experience, they may have avoided a critical disconnection – a disconnection that appears to have led them losing sight of the Customer Experience in their focus on achieving their business strategy for the benefit of their shareholder.
That is why I believe that for organisations to be truly customer centric, they MUST be able to connect their business purpose with the Customer Experience by developing and connecting their business strategy with a clearly defined customer strategy. The better able they are to do this, the more likely it is they will meet and exceed Customer Expectation AND achieve their commercial goals.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?! It is quite clearly not easy. Which takes me back to the starting point. It does not cost anything for a business to just STOP a second and remind itself of its purpose. Taking the time to consider whether or not the purpose is well connected to the experience customers are having may prompt a review of how well the business is connecting its commercial goals with the goals it has defined (or needs to define) for its customer.
One final thought – the better your ability to link your business purpose with the Customer Experience, the better your ability to deliver the appropriate Employee Experience. At the end of the day it is your people who need to be the face of the connection…..who need to believe in the connection. So the best starting point of all is to ask your people – ‘do you know what our purpose is?’