Greetings. Almost every company or organization talks about the importance of customers. Of becoming more "customer-centric." Of listening to the "voice of the customer." Of "partnering with customers" to deliver greater value. Of "walking a mile (or at least 1.5 kilometers) in the customer's shoes" to understand their world and what really matters. Of bringing the customer "into the tent" to collaborate on new ideas and innovative ways of working together. And some are actually taking this change seriously. But many rarely back up their words with actions, and the walls of their offices, factories, distribution and call centers, and other workplaces quickly give them away. Because companies focused on customers typically cover their walls with pictures of the folks they have the privilege to serve. Pictures that provide a constant and powerful reminder of why they are in business and what it means to make a difference in the lives of customers.
It's not a hard and fast rule. But it is a quick indicator of our commitment to customers. And a simple way to keep reminding our own employees–i.e., the ones who serve our customers and should also merit our strongest commitment–that we are, in fact, a customer-centric organization. Yet more often than not, my wanderings through the hallways of companies leads past interesting art, photos of new facilities, pictures of remarkable processes, charts showing progress, and motivational posters. But very little that has to do with real live customers.
Wouldn't it be a lot more motivational to surround ourselves with pictures of our customers? Instead of being surrounded by posters of a mountain, the sea, perfect waves of grain and sand, or a total stranger proclaiming "achieve," "collaborate," "innovate," "focus," "sharpen the ax" and the like. Because if we can't get fired up by seeing our actual customers, why should we even come to work each day?
The clever folks at Capital One are always asking: "What's in your wallet?" Maybe it's time to starting asking: "What's on your walls?"
We win in business and in life when we never lose sight of our reason for being. It's something that is quite easy to picture.