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STOP Satisfying Customers and START Creating Value for Clients

Agitated. Angry. Furious. These customer emotions are not unusual for organizations that preach: the customer is always right, customer satisfaction is our motto, service is our purpose. A recent study reveals that these emotions erupt because customers don’t feel appreciated, can’t get to the right person, perceive rudeness and unhelpfulness, repeatedly get handed off, and wait too long for a response. Ironically, these negative emotions are triggered because organizations are trying to satisfy customers. Why does striving to satisfy customers fail?


Customer service misses the mark because while organizations want to avoid conflict by delivering satisfaction, individuals seek relief by having their problem solved. Without engaging in inquiry to discover the real problem, customer service will never be able to reliably leverage an organization’s capabilities to solve these problems. 


The challenge for leaders has two vital and strategic elements. On the one hand, how can leaders develop the processes, places, and people that can engage customers — whether internal or external — to figure out their problems and deliver valuable solutions? On the other hand, when and how can leaders continuously improve these systems while simultaneously being strategic about which problems not to solve?  


This program introduces a novel and strategic approach to customer service and experience by first switching terminology from customer to client and from service to value creation. This switch in terminology implies the professionalization of client value creators — referred to as CiViCs — and the cultivation of trusted-advisor relationships within a system created and supported by leaders. Mastery of this leadership system not only shifts the organization’s culture to focus on the creation of value for others but also launches an organizational journey in pursuit of excellence and growth.


The program begins by exploring implications of switching the lexicon from “customer satisfaction” to “client value creation.” With this new nomenclature, the program introduces the metaphor of the Client Value Creation Chain, which is comprised of three interconnected links or cycles that can propel an organization forward.  


The first link in the chain is the Client Cycle. This link acknowledges that clients, internal or external, approach organizations or departments seeking help to solve problems that they may not be able to fully express. Clients often have unspoken beliefs and expectations about the organization that can shape their interactions with CiViCs. These interactions cause clients to update beliefs and expectations, which they often share with others thereby affecting an organization’s reputation and brand. Understanding the Client Cycle fundamentally influences and shapes the way in which CiViCs engage with clients.


The second link in the chain is the CiViC Cycle. CiViCs benefit from preparing themselves, even if only for a few moments, to interact with and engage clients so that they bring the right frame of mind, leverage good first impressions, and engage in inquiry to formulate the client’s problem. Specific tools and techniques can help the CiViC work with the client to jointly figure out the problem and develop a solution approach and plan for how the organization can help. The CiViC should seek particular kinds of feedback to be used to improve themselves and their organization for future client interactions.


The third and final link is the Leadership Cycle. CiViCs cannot succeed unless leaders and the systems they create, supply proper support. Leaders must discover for themselves the types of client problems they want their organization to solve. Importantly, they also must choose which problems not to solve. Leaders need to interact with and support CiViCs by creating, maintaining, and changing processes, places and people as they learn. Feedback and reflection by leaders are vital for advancing the organizations ability to create value. Hence, the Leadership Cycle is the most complex and far reaching of the three cycles. 


The Client Value Creation Chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Mastery of the Leadership Cycle, which is the most complex and challenging of the links, is the lynchpin of creating value for clients and transforming the organization and its culture.


Typical Program Schedule


Day 1:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 2:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 3:  (2-hours)  Optional consulting experience

Day 16: (1-hour)  First EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 30: (1-hour)  Second EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 44: (1-hour)  First meeting of micro-learning community peer coaching meetings

Day 60: (1/2-hour)  Learning reflection and assessment meetings, one for each team

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