Why leading business in the customer era requires empathy and courage

Dr Melis Senova discusses why leaders need to embrace empathy, vulnerability and courage if they're to lead a customer culture revolution in their organisations

Leaders must embrace empathy, courage and vulnerability if they’re to successfully transition their businesses from the industrial to human era.

That’s the view of Dr Melis Senova, the founder and director of strategy and design at consulting group Huddle, who spoke on the need for businesses to undergo a cultural transformation at the Customer360 Symposium.

While organisations are increasingly recognising they need to focus on the “fluffy”, soft skills within business to achieve a customer-first culture, Dr Senova claimed they are still striving – and wrongly – to then put tangible metrics into play.

In addition, many who claim to be customer centric are stuck in fixed mindsets and seduced by the need for comprehensive solutions to avoid failure. Instead, organisations should be nimble minded, focused on generational thinking, and take new customer insights as a way to open up possibility and opportunity.

“We are deeply uncomfortable with ambiguity and that’s because of risk mitigation and fear,” Dr Senova told attendees. “We have to accept that not all things can be measured. That’s when clear belief and faith coming into play as a leader.

“To create a customer-centric culture, you sometimes need to make decisions without having the evidence. The thing with metrics is that they usually cover something that has happened. But we need to be creating and making new things happen and to do that, you don’t have established metrics.”

According to Dr Senova, one major roadblock on the road to customer centricity is the distinction between what is said as an organisation, and leadership action. Having a clear sense of purpose is one thing, but many organisations neglect the work that needs to be done on a personal level to achieve this.

“As leaders of organisations, we need to believe in our purpose and live it,” Dr Senova said. “Our actions can’t be incongruous with that.

“What you create internally in the organisation is what will manifest in the external world.”

To lead cultural change and be aligned with customers, businesses leaders must embrace empathy, courage and vulnerability, Dr Senova continued. She suggested most businesses are at the ‘exchange’ stage of their customer evolution at present, but have yet to reach the ‘creation’ stage, where they are delivering unexpected value to customers.

The final stage in Dr Senova’s customer journey is ‘transformation’, where organisations are delivering interactions that transform a customer’s life.

“As we progress from the industrial to human era, we have to transform how ‘we be’ as well,” she said. “It’s not just processes and solutions, but us as people and how we need to change.”

Dr Senova also pointed out that while businesses have focused almost solely on the monetary exchanges between a customer and the organisation to date, these are not the primary value exchanges most of us have on any given day.

“Share within your organisation the nature of what value exchange means to your customers,” she advised. “Money shouldn’t be the only thing you talk about.”

More from Customer360 Symposium

- Nadia Cameron travelled to Customer360 Symposium as a guest of Ashton Media.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Marketers are driving our innovation ecosystem

The Government's newly released National Innovation and Science Agenda shows that for economic growth to continue within Australia, an 'innovation ecosystem' must be fostered, where new businesses with new ideas are encouraged to grow and flourish. With every company wanting to increase, retain or improve their customers’ experiences, this makes marketing vital to fuelling Australia's ideas boom.

Lee Tonitto

CEO, Australian Marketing Institute

Putting experience design and strategy in the spotlight

​A few years ago, there was lots of chatter about the elusive UX unicorn; a mythical person capable of delivering everything from research to design to development. It became an obsession for the industry, sparking debate about whether this was the metaphor for how unreasonable our expectations of designers had become, while some felt it was what all designers should be aspiring to.

Tracy Brown

Experience design strategy director, DT

Making sense of artificial intelligence

When new trends and technologies burst onto the marketing scene, there’s always a frantic effort to either keep up or provide guidance, especially when serious amounts of money are involved. It happened with social media, it happened with personalisation and big data, and it’s happening now with artificial intelligence.

Phil Whitehouse

Asia-Pacific innovation lead, DigitasLB

Martech will definitely make everything better especially when it comes to marketing and sales. Any business not comfortable with it shou...

TapAnalytics

Marketo’s CEO talks martech industry consolidation and his enterprise customer ambitions

Read more

You can also try this leads to revenue calculator tool (it's free): https://www.strategic-ic.co.uk...

Fes Askari

​The dangers of misaligning your marketing budget with business goals

Read more

“We wanted to provide was a way for a customer to have a seamless experience as they went across channels,” Marrocco added. “So if your c...

Sarah

​Telstra’s mission to match the offline experience with online customer service

Read more

You have the right to know what happened that made AI possible, after all these years.I discovered and patented statistics on unstructure...

Ilya Geller

Making sense artificial intelligence - Food for thought - CMO Australia

Read more

I hope this trickles down to job opportunities and more analytics based careers on the government.

Ale Xandra

Australian Open details data analytics improvements driving digital fan engagement

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in