Work-life balance as a CEO Downtown is a term used for the idea that an individual needs time for both work and other aspects of life (personal interests, family and leisure activities).
Our schedules are getting busier than ever before, which often causes our work or our personal lives to suffer. The compounding stress of CEO Downtown from never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness.
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The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different lives and different priorities. Work-life balance doesn’t mean an equal balance. There is no perfect balance you should be striving for. At the core of work-life balance is meaningful daily Achievement and Enjoyment.
When employees feel a greater sense of control and ownership over their own lives, they tend to have better relationship with management and tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work, which in turn increases company productivity and reduces conflicts.
Companies that encourage work-life balance have become very attractive to workers. These companies also tend to enjoy higher employee retention rates and more loyalty. Promoting balance is beneficial to both employees and companies.
It's easy to be ethnocentric about customer-centricity! Enthnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own culture. How often do we view customer experience, loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and customer care from the perspective of our own company culture? I'd venture to say "too often"!
In the name of customer advocacy, we tend to have a number of exciting customer relationship-building programs in place: advisory boards, user groups, reference programs, satisfaction surveys, experiential marketing, personalized customer communications, and much more. These are indeed useful efforts -- but their usefulness is exponential when we put aside ethnocentrism for true customer-centrism. The key is in examining our motives.
Ethnocentric Customer Advocacy
Inside-out advocacy seeks to build customer relationships through these primary motives: design new products, obtain new customers, up-sell and cross-sell current customers, determine employee bonuses, and so forth. These motivations are ethnocentric because they are essentially self-serving. Sure, the customer may benefit along the way, but the focus is foremost on company revenue. With this focus, the benefits to customers are short-term at best. And the company's outreach efforts must be constant to keep the wheel moving.
True Customer-centric Customer Advocacy
Outside-in advocacy seeks to build customer relationships through these primary motives: make it easier and nicer for customers to get and use the solutions we offer. With those primary motives securely in place, secondary motives may include: design new products, obtain new customers, up-sell and cross-sell current customers, determine employee bonuses, and so forth. The company will certainly benefit along the way, but the focus is foremost on customers' ease. With this focus, the benefits to customers are long-term and self-sustaining. By making it easier and nicer for customers to get and use the solutions we offer, our ambivalent customers are more likely to migrate to brand enthusiasts, positive word-of-mouth accelerates, and both revenue and profit growth are sustainable in an almost auto-pilot mode, relative to the ethnocentric motives scenario.
Waste of Inward Focus
An executive once told me he'd be glad if his company had only manufacturing and sales functions -- just the bare minimum to make and sell solutions for customers. He was really commenting on the excessive inward focus and waste that tends to occur in companies. Certainly, customers expect additional services around the solutions they buy: safety, quality, financing, upgrades and innovations, and so on. And that's why companies exist -- to make and sell whole solutions for customers. After all, it's the customers who make our payroll dollars possible! And truly customer-centric companies keep that thought at the forefront, with pure primary motives to make it easier and nicer for customers to get the solutions they need.
Customer Experience Management
Customer experience management (CEM) is an essential methodology for being a truly customer-centric firm. CEM brings an outside-in focus and pure motives to all groups within the firm. It's the key to creating strong customer perceived differentiation from the competition, as truly customer-centric customer advocacy encompasses the customer's full experience spectrum. CEM makes it easier and nicer for customers to get and use solutions.
Ethnocentric customer-centricity is easy to fall into! Executive champions must be on the alert to prevent it. Outside-in motives prevent waste and and generate big results. The usefulness of any customer relationship building program is exponential when we put aside ethnocentrism for true customer-centrism.
There are many ways employers can promote work-life balance in office, some of which are: company outings, offering remote working and flexible hours, providing good health coverage, encouraging employee education.
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Empowering employees like CEO Downtown to take control over their work and home lives can have a profound impact on their job satisfaction and performance, enabling companies to achieve success. Achieving work-life balance is a daily challenge. It can be tough to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace.
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The absolute most important aspect of customer retention is culture. Culture is the way things are thought about, talked about, and done. If TRUST is the basis for any long-term relationship, then a culture of trust is essential to customer retention. Two great examples are Kimpton - a boutique hotel chain, and Cisco Systems.
Kimpton has been named the number one place to work in 9 of the 17 cities where it operates. Market Metrix Hospitality Index or MMHI, has awarded top scores to Kimpton over the past few years - their scored have exceeded not only their direct competitors - but also brands such as Ritz Carlton, St Regis, and Four Seasons. Kimpton has achieved this because of their strong customer-centric culture of really knowing their customers, anticipating customers' needs with great precision, and empowering employees to meet customer expectations.
Another good example of customer-centric culture is Cisco Systems. They are proactive about solutions for every stage of the customer's lifecycle, and on their basic product web pages you can readily find contact information for customer service and tech support ... whereas many companies require customers to go through many clicks to get their contact information. Cisco has made a concerted effort to maximize their customer self-service features, so that their agents can focus on more high-value assistance, from the customers' perspective.
Walking the Talk
How many companies walk the talk by assigning an executive sponsor to customer retention? At Symantec, the Vice President of Customer Experience posts the results of their latest feedback from customers, as well as what they're doing to address that feedback. This can be one of the most powerful ways to keep your customers talking to you. Show that you really read and digest their feedback, and show that you have followed their advice in making improvements.
By closing the loop with customers, you can re-set their perceptions, so they don't feel compelled to carry around negative baggage of past experiences. They can re-set their perceptions to better meet your current realities of improved policies, business processes, and customer experiences.
Symantec takes this a step further with a feedback form on their website - enabling anyone anytime to either vent their frustrations or express appreciation for a job well done.
Two-way conversation on Twitter is best illustrated by Comcast - Frank Eliason's is director of digital care at Comcast and his profile includes his personal website and blog - as he sees customer frustrations expressed, he reaches out to them to find solutions, and in the process, many disillusioned customers have migrated to fans not only of Comcast, but to a friendship with Frank.
Going Beyond the Surface
Over-focus on customer acquisition teaches customers to switch brands. For example, the brand switching rate, called customer churn, is 40% for the mobile phone industry, compared to a 7% customer churn rate for the insurance and financial services industries. Some good advice is to quit training your customers to switch - get off the churn bandwagon.
Let's take a look at a mobile phone company that has pursued a customer retention strategy whereas its peers in the industry were focused primarily on customer acquisition. The mobile phone company Orange is owned by France Telecom, and it's a great example of departing from industry norms with a unique experiment on customer service as a brand differentiator - somewhat similar to the Saturn brand of General Motors.
Orange has pursued a strategy of customer-centricity by investing heavily in their agents' knowledge, customer communication and responsiveness. Customer service agents take a 1-month course before interacting with customers, and for their first several weeks interfacing with customers, the work environment has a high ratio of supervisors.
This is accompanied by ongoing formal quality assurance with an emphasis on precision monitoring through speech analytics. The speech analytics tool has enabled Orange to identify at-risk customers, and these customers are reached out to within 24 hours, to turn around their sentiment about the brand, and migrate them from at-risk status toward satisfied status.
80% of the customers identified as at-risk through the speech analytics were not picked up as at-risk through the agents nor other methods. The results are 20% improvement in 1st call resolution, 15% reduction in repeat calls, and 20% increase in satisfaction with customer service.
Trust is the Foundation
The lesson here is that customer retention may be best supported by operational integrity. After all, when you think about your personal relationships as well as your business relationships, you tend to stick with the folks that are really good at showing they sincerely care about you, and doing what they say they're going to do.
It boils down to trust. When you dig down to the reasons why people leave a brand for a competitor's solution, it's not so much about the competitors' offers and brand affinity -- but, rather, the reasons people switch brands is much more about product, service and value disappointments. Companies make huge investments in communicating their value proposition. Logic says a corresponding investment - at least in energy and scrutiny - should be made in making sure their value proposition is lived up to. TRUST is the best way to retain customers.
When a CEO Downtown spends the majority of its days on work-related activities and feel as if they are neglecting other important components of their lives, stress and unhappiness result. Thus, you must learn to draw a clear line between your personal and work time and set clear expectations with your colleagues.