6. Customize.Harley-Davidson isn’t merely building reliable motorcycles. It aims to fulfill the dreams of its customers through the motorcycle experience. If that means going beyond the signature full-throated roar of their Harley and enabling the Harley owners to embellish their vehicles with grassroots folk art, the company will help them do it.
7. Partner with customers. Companies can enhance delight by partnering with buyers. For example, Quadrant Homes, a division of Weyerhaeuser , doesn’t build homes and then try to sell them; Quadrant sells homes before building them and involves buyers in each step of the design. The customer can choose from multiple footprints and floor plans. The result is high demand in a weak market and strong word-of-mouth advertising.
8. Empower. To please customers, make sure frontline workers have the power to make decisions on the spot. Issues are resolved faster. Everyone in the organization must be inspired to think all day and every day: what can I do to give more value to the customer sooner?
9. Measure. You can’t manage anything unless you can measure it, and customer delight is no exception. Fortunately, Fred Reichheld has shown us how with the Net Promoter Score discussed in The Ultimate Question. In most situations, asking a single question—how likely is it that you would recommend this product or service to a colleague or friend?—gives an accurate reading on whether the customer is being delighted.
10. Radical management. Delighting customers implies fundamental changes in the way most established organizations are managed. That’s because traditional command-and-control bureaucracy is constitutionally unsuited to delighting customers. It’s too slow, insufficiently agile and too internally focused to be responsive to customer needs. Once a firm commits to the goal of constantly increasing the value of what it offers to its customers, it needs to become more agile. It will, like Southwest Airlines or Starbucks , naturally gravitate towards the seven principles of radical management—focusing the entire organization on delighting clients; working in self-organizing teams; operating in client-driven iterations; delivering value to clients with each iteration; fostering radical transparency; nurturing continuous self-improvement; and communicating interactively.
Do the benefits of radical management warrant the cost of the transition? The most important benefit is that the firm may survive. The life expectancy of firms in the Fortune 500 has declined to around 15 years, and, according to Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, it’s heading towards five years, unless traditional management is transformed. More specifically, focusing the firm on customer delight through radical management leads simultaneously to major gains in productivity, continuous innovation and deep job satisfaction for those doing the work. It is only when these keys are in place that a firm is really in control of its true bottom line.
About the Author:Stephen Denning is the author of The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century, which describes the seven principles of radical management, as well as more than 70 supporting practices. His other books include the award-winning The Secret Language of Leadership and The Leader's Guide to Storytelling. The former program director of knowledge management for the World Bank, Denning consults with organizations in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia in the areas of leadership, management, innovation, and business narrative and radical management. To learn more, visit the author's website at: http://www.stevedenning.com
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