— August 15, 2019
Recently, the CEO of a company shared the agenda for his management offsite meeting.
Agenda: – Review key metrics (30 min) – Discuss service growth plan (30 min) – Discuss 2020 product vision (30 min) – Discuss pricing / packaging (6 hours) – Harbor boat ride (90 minutes)
I see dozens of these every year. Some for meetings I’ve been invited to participate in, some from my coaching clients.
They’re not much different than the one outlined above. Yes, some of the specifics are different, but generally, they focus on a lot of internal business topics.
The one thing virtually all these agendas lack is a discussion about customers—which is surprising, because it is our customers that drive our business.
It’s far to easy in any meeting to get consumed in our businesses. To focus on our own metrics, projects, challenges, and so forth and to forget about customers. But imagine how our mindsets might change if, in each meeting, we reserved just a few minutes to talk about customers.
Try the following as an experiment in your company for the next 30 days.
In the first 5-10 minutes of every meeting, share two stories:
- A success a customer has had because of what you have helped them achieve. Find a story of a customer that is getting results from your solutions. Share their success, talk about it with the team. Remember, it’s their success, not the success you have had winning a customer.
- A problem a customer has had with your products or in doing business with you. Don’t try to solve it, just try to understand it and the impact it had on them.
Start every meeting this way. Not just executive meetings, sales or marketing meetings. Start every meeting thinking about the customer. If it’s a finance meeting, an operations meeting, an engineering design review, every meeting.
If you can, get a picture of the customer to show as you tell the story. Make sure it’s a picture of the individual, not a corporate logo. Make it personal, because it’s personal to the customer.
Assign a different person, each meeting to get the story. Depending on the function, they may need help from marketing, sales or customer service. Ideally, as part of the preparation for the meeting, they will spend 5 minutes talking to the customer on the phone. (Be sure to send them a thank you note, telling them what happened when you told the story.)
Take 5-10 minutes of every meeting—I know you have the time, because I’ve never attended a meeting that didn’t waste at least 5-10 minutes. Do this in every meeting for 30 days.
I guarantee, this will be game changing for your perspective and that of everyone in the company. All of a sudden, the customer becomes the center of everything we do.
Afterword: My thanks to the CEO of the company with the agenda at the top of this post. He had very good humor with my comments about the absence of discussion about customers.
After afterword: For extra credit points, frame those pictures with a small description of the story, hang them around your offices and facilities. I had a client that lined the hallways with these pictures and stories. They named conference rooms after customers–people, not companies.