As Forrester predicted, power has shifted from organizations to empowered customers, driving digital disruption and consumer hyperadoption as we enter year five of the age of the customer. In new research launched today at Forrester’s MARKETING Forum in New York City, James McQuivey presented on how having a customer-obsessed operating model is one thing, but leading the organization to execute it effectively is another. The real catch, though, is that the best leaders will do both.

McQuivey’s new report argues that all companies will have to evolve their operating model to pivot to customer obsession, and business leaders must be the ones to lead the transformation. Additionally, it outlines the five critical leadership behaviors that most powerfully direct the organization to customer-obsessed actions:

  1. Setting high standards for customer obsession. While words can inspire, the effect wears off if they don’t point to specific actions. Setting high standards, making those standards visible, and holding organizations responsible for meeting those standards will turn the CEO’s words into action.
  2. Recognizing and rewarding customer obsession when it happens. People thrive on feedback, and nothing is more motivating than effectively having a shared goal, working toward it, and being recognized upon achieving it. Customer-obsessed leaders will put incentives in place to reward employees for making measurable contributions.
  3. Removing obstacles to customer obsession. Leaders demonstrate their worth when they consciously identify obstacles — formal policies or informal practices — and remove them, even if just temporarily to permit a single team or individual to engage in customer-obsessed action.
  4. Modeling customer obsession in your own behaviors. If you don’t walk the walk, all the talk in the world won’t inspire others to do so. Leading with a customer-obsessed mindset with every action will trickle down to the rest of the organization.
  5. Providing resources for customer obsession. You get what you pay for, and if you don’t pay for customer obsession, you won’t get it. But waiting for annual budget cycles to ask for a customer-obsessed line item will not generate the action — or encourage the actions of others — that the organization needs. Sometimes, big budget moves send the strongest signals, but they must accompany smaller, nimbler allocations of resources.

Click here for more information, and contact us if you’d like a copy of this report or would like to see James’ presentation from the Forum.