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Rethinking Customer-Centric Transformations

Posted On  May 14, 2018

In the past 16 years, I have been involved in over 200 customer-centric transformations with organizations around the globe. Like me, you might think that becoming customer centric is common sense, that it should not be so difficult. You may also think that it does not require a full-fledged transformation because, after all, we are all customers, and if we just apply our own expectations for a great customer experience, it should work out. Shouldn’t it?

Boy, I was wrong.

There was nothing “common sense” about becoming customer centric. And, it almost always required a complete organizational transformation.

I’ve seen many organizations try to follow the simple path of common sense. They’ve placed inspirational posters all over their offices reinforcing their commitment to customers, accompanied by the smiling faces of select employees. But, as every transformation practitioner will tell you, it is not about what’s on the wall. It is about what’s in the soul.

What I discovered instead, was an irrational and fierce objection to change. All too often subconscious rejection, applied by reasonable people, showed they could not get on with the program despite all the rational proof provided. It became clear that CEO mandates are often ignored, and the great customer centric commitments died one hundred small deaths. Employees would simply ignore the mandate and let the initiative die on the vine.

The fear of change was so powerful and captivating that employees let it take over their behaviors. They acted as victims and refused to allow any new thinking, let alone actions.

It was then that I realized that today’s employees need some new tools to manage their fear and change resistance and to learn how to adapt differently. I recognized the need for change resilience.

At its heart, change resilience is not just a renewed sense of hope, but something much deeper. It’s the ability to manage the past and link it to the future; the capacity to try new things without fear of embarrassment; the practice of exploring new habits daily; and most of all, change resilience is the recognition of how “the next” can be meaningful and help you find purpose in what you do.

To paraphrase what Winston Churchill once said about writing a book, “Starts as a lover but end up as a tyrant.” I must admit that there are many aspects of the book creation process that are less glamorous than one might think. I dedicated the time to write this book to empower every individual to think and act differently towards change. We ought to embrace the next as an extension of who we are and how we evolve in the world, allowing ourselves to be multi-dimensional and stay relevant to all those who need us.

This is a call for action – A call to recognize our change resistance and find new ways to overcome it. This is a call to identify our fears and develop the courage to go beyond them. It’s a call to allow us to see ourselves beyond what we do right now and the circumstances that led us here. It is about opening ourselves to new opportunities and fulfilling our mission in this world through every interaction and engagement.

Change can induce fear. I will be the first one to admit, the next comes with a heavy dosage of uncertainty, and therefore anxiety. It also comes with new things and practices we never tried and are afraid to try for fear of failure. At a certain point, we feel that we’ve earned the right not to change in the name of our success, but change doesn’t wait for us. Change doesn’t cut us slack. Our fight against it is futile and will end in a sad defeat, leaving us behind. It is time to embrace the opportunities and recognize that next is now and therefore, the time to act is right now.

If readers of Next Is Now find a renewed hope in the future and embrace the next as a friend, not as a foe, it will be the ultimate reward. I sure hope they are able to do so.


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