martin clarkson quote web

Imagine a world where every employee understands what their company wants to achieve, what their customer needs, and their role in helping to make it all happen.

But that, sadly, is not the reality for many. Our recent report Two Years’ Warning: The Customer Centricity Crisis found junior employees are significantly less likely than leaders to know the company journey they are on.

It could be a simple matter of getting everyone around a table and stating clearly “This is what we’re up against”. Of course, in grocery businesses of thousands of employees, alternative ways of sharing the message are critical.

So how do you begin building a clear and compelling story that sets the need for putting the customer first in context?

Ask these questions: where have we come from? What are our challenges? What are we going to do? What will success look like? For many, from corner shops to multi-store operations, the answers to these questions will make it clear the customer is the key priority for the business. The next step is to tackle the challenge of getting everyone on the same page - starting by creating the story of the journey the business is on, with the customer at the centre, and inviting everyone to contribute to how they can make a difference.

Go wide: across the company, identify and celebrate great customer-centricity in action. Relating the story to each job function helps employees envisage themselves on this journey.

Get help: for a narrative to succeed, it can’t just come from the top. Identify the change champions and pioneers who are in strong support of a proposed cultural change. And be open: people are far more likely to respond to change if they feel they are involved and have ownership, rather than playing the ‘victim’ of an under-explained or seemingly confusing shift. An open dialogue that favours channels of collaborative communication encourages staff members to trust in the ideas of leaders, and accept attitudes and behaviours that complement the underlying narrative.

Very few companies get this all right, so imagine a world in which yours is one of them.

Martin Clarkson is co-founder and chairman of The Storytellers