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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

How challenger brands can win at biddable media

Challenger brands, especially in highly competitive markets, generally can’t match established players for media spend.

Chris Pittham

Managing director, Jaywing

The competitive advantage Australian retailers have over Amazon

With all of the hype around Amazon, many online retailers have been trying to understand how they can compete with the American retail giant.

Joel Milligan

Performance manager, Columbus Agency

How to become the customer experience custodian

The number one objective enterprises give for embarking on a digital transformation is to improve customer experiences with new engagement models, according to IDC’s 2017 global study.

Insightful article from an AdTech perspective

Mehdi Partika

Predictions 2018: 5 ways the CMO role will change

Read more

Sounds like a bunch of convoluted business bullshit with no real substance or value. Business people deluding themselves into thinking th...

Bupa Customer

Best CX Companies List profiles: Bupa's Voice of the Customer project

Read more

This partnership seems to bring a lot of benefits.

Uk Driver

Deloitte announces new agency partnership to expand digital reality capabilities

Read more

It's all about the experience and it seems that understanding is finally full tilt!

Danny Mack

Building a robust digital customer experience

Read more

I am going to visit Australia))) nice place ... one of the most attractive

Carly Julia

Tourism Australia aims for youth travel market with dedicated news channel

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in