Companies of all shapes and sizes understand the value of being close to the customer. Whether you’re a summer intern or a member of the Executive Suite, we all know the importance of understanding the customer and their needs. Where the customer has a problem, you need to have a solution. The challenge for many leaders is formulating strategy onto this idea. The customer participant should always play a key role when developing a strategic plan. This begs the question; how do we effectively align customers and employees to the strategic plan. The answer: communication.
The strategic direction of an organization should always be influenced by the customer. Many leaders struggle with understanding the fundamental needs of the customer because their role doesn’t allow for customer-facing opportunities. This is simply due to time constraints. In order to overcome this obstacle, communication becomes critical. Customer-facing employees need to be able to adequately communicate feedback to the leadership team. Conversely, it’s up to the leadership team to make decisions based on that feedback and thus properly communicate strategy back down to the frontline staff. This tight-knit customer feedback loop drives organizational effectiveness like nothing else I’ve seen. It’s pretty remarkable when done right.
By no means is this process easy. Today’s workplace is becoming much more disparate with telecommuters and employees working remotely. We all tend to get comfortable in our silos without keeping our eye on the vision. It happens. But this shortsightedness can cause communication to be a very daunting task. In my experience, when the strategic plan of the organization is known and every team members is mission-oriented, the means of communication become clear (How To Communicate). We all know that communication is the key to any healthy relationship, but I’d go a step further and emphasize that communication is also the key to any healthy organization.