Decision Making Styles of Customer-Focused CEOs

Joe Weinlick
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For most businesses, customer service involves responding to problems as they arise. In customer-focused cultures, the entire organization is about understanding what customers want and making sure every interaction improves satisfaction and loyalty. Top-down customer focus is only possible if company leaders foster an environment where employees can create value at every touchpoint. Growing businesses should follow these common practices of customer-focused leaders to build lasting relationships that drive profit.

1. They Unify the Organization

Poor customer service is often a sign of communication gaps within a company. Employees on the front lines know what customers want, but organizational silos make it difficult to get all departments on the same page. Customer-focused leaders know the importance of providing a consistent customer experience, so they unify senior management to eliminate barriers. Instead of letting managers individually define team goals, strong leaders provide a clear customer service model to uniformly create positive conditions for customers.

2. They Are Purpose-Driven

Employees at every level take behavioral cues from senior executives. If upper management only cares about profit metrics, employees focus on results at the expense of team unity and customer service. In a customer-focused culture, leaders base the entire business model around improving the lives of customers through relevant and purposeful product solutions. Good leaders only make brand promises they can uphold, and they align all internal processes to deliver the ideal customer experience.

3. They Take Risks

To stay valuable to customers, businesses have to think about how their core needs are evolving. Customer-focused leaders set fear aside and take risks to develop new ways of serving clients. Technology is forcing markets to change faster, and companies fall behind when they fail to anticipate what clients want next. Outwardly, their decisions might seem risky, but forward-looking leaders constantly draw feedback from customers to come up with innovative business ideas. Backed by customer data, these leaders can persuade other senior executives to invest in long-term customer loyalty, even if it means sacrificing short-term profit.

4. They Recognize and Create Value

Customer-focused leaders recognize the importance of internal and external stakeholders. After all, employees who feel valued and empowered commit to delivering the best customer service solutions. They consistently exceed expectations, and in turn, customers believe in the brand message and trust the organization to continue satisfying their needs.

In a 2017 study of 13,000 people, Gallup reported that 59 percent of customers experienced problems with a company in the previous six months. Roughly 93 percent of customers who were happy with a company's resolution felt the organization took responsibility, showed genuine regret and made them feel valued. By comparison, only 7 percent found restitution or compensation most satisfying. Under supportive, value-driven leaders, employees can act as customer advocates and offer timely resolutions without running every decision up the organizational chain.

In this connected digital age, companies of all sizes can grow rapidly by basing their business models, marketing strategies and product development around customer insights. Effective customer service keeps a business in sync with its core audience, providing a steady stream of feedback to shape best practices.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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