One of the most customer-centric leaders I know left Dell today after 12 years. It’s unfortunate because it’s hard to come by leaders who have a cognitive filter on everything they say and do keeps the customer top-of-mind. Let’s just say she has “Customer-centric Velcro”.
She has the ability to understand business and financial needs, formulate strategies to achieve results. Effectiveness at that is an achievement. However, before she moves a hand or opens her mouth, her behavior passes through her “customer-centric Velcro.” Some assortment of synapses — like the hooks in velcro — grab non-customer-centric ideas from the brain and prevent them from being spoken or acted upon.
On the inside of a company, it’s easy to think of ideas and behave in a way that is right for the business, wrong for the customer. Those with “Customer Centric Velcro” are able to keep the non-customer-friendly behaviors from getting executed.
I don’t see many people who have this gift. And I don’t know if it’s natural competency, a developed skill. My friend Bryan Eisenberg suggests it’s the Meiers Briggs personality type of NT – Intuitive Thinkers. But she is also very analytical. So she’s a rare breed.
I am convinced, however, that companies who fill their cubes with people like this will drive bottom line results in a customer-centric way.