Organizational Grit for Great Customer Relationships
Grit is a non-cognitive trait based on someone’s ability to achieve an identified goal, through perseverance in the face of many challenges and obstacles. Gritty demonstrate passion, goal orientation, self-motivation, tenacity, endurance and learning agility. Our customer universe is a more challenging place today from what we saw in past decade. Studies attribute this to VUCA-environment (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) due to which they look out for game-changing nation even in high performing vendors. Let us look at it this way. A puff of energy may help us win a sprint whereas stamina, which is sustained energy may help us win a marathon. One can aim and achieve a rare-win like sprint as well as marathon. Gritty accomplish challenging tasks that even the intelligent ones cannot.
We know many cases of organizations where simple and positive gestures towards customers have accelerated their growth. Jan Carlzon turned around Scandinavian SAS Airlines to profits from continued losses. We also know it is the outcome largely by applying 'Moment of Truth', a behavioral approach. This is one rare case of customer delight in the face of a good number of cases where unhappy customers caused a deluge because of our behaviors.
Grit is a behavioral trait that can help our customer-facing employee contribute to amplify customer’s successes. Customers admire gritty, who persevere to perspiration with passion to achieve goals.
Customers’ responses are equal if not better reciprocation to our well-intended actions.
We get to see lot of crucial pointers on unpleasant customer experiences when we search the net. Organizations lose billions of dollars per year in business due to poor customer service. Hardly a single digit percentage of customers feel that they experienced consistent good customer service. Looking at generations, even young millennials can cause customer experience failures, when compared to baby boomers. It is the personality attribute that comes out visibly here, neither the demography nor the brand. Employees with grit can prevent such situations, if not catalysts of effective antidotes.
We can manage something that is measured. Anything developed is measurable. An organization can develop gritty employees as remedial therapy to align with customers to earn more for a buck. For this, as an organization or as individuals, we need to look at determinants, deterrents, and the ways to deal. Our aim is to create a positive impact on customer servicing with gritty facing.
Determinants of grit that can augment customer’s hopes:
High gravity: It is an individual’s ability to stay on against all odds or challenges with an undeterred focus on goal. Such associates can strengthen customer’s hopes.
Passion: According to science, passion for one’s work is a bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and a lifetime of deepening. Learning agility can bolster passion. Agile learner can understand customer’s domain and aide in more effective solutions.
Goal setting: Gritty have skill to deal with conflicting goals through hierarchical levelling. Customers adore those focused and result oriented.
Conviction: None of us is perfect and neither relatively better. It is the conviction in one’s strengths and the risk of erring for learning boosts one’s perseverance.
Want or won’t?: An organization and its customer-facing employees have a choice whether to delight the customer being gritty or present themselves as mere complying comrades. A learning organization opts what works for customer.
An author, Jeffrey Gitomer said, "Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless." In their pursuit of winning customer loyalty, organizations must take responsibility to deploy below measures that can augment their aspiration to grow to be grittier:
Top-view: Nothing moves forward without leadership’s blessing. People sense the need when top management sensitizes them. Once convinced, the ball rolls on its own mass across the organization gathering further mass.
Process precedes: The individuals must seek to acquire grit. At the same time, the supervisors must mentor, set up a process and a program management framework.
L&D’s role: Learning and Development (L&D) can contextualize grit for each band as part of competency. Design need-based curriculum for lines of business, and drive learning and post learning evaluation across organization. It is important that the top leadership supported this from customer centricity and topline augmentation perspective.
Assessments and Recognition: The L&D function can access web sites that offer assessments, evaluate them and customize a certification scheme. It can further facilitate an access to leaders and HR for recognition and rewards.
HR’s role: HR must encourage an appraisal system where supervisors take cognizance of competency thresholds. They can assist supervisors in performance rating based on grit scores.
Nurturing grit: Each business line may take over control to deploy post training action plan. Form nurturing clubs that conduct seminars, symposia, leadership talks, and tabletop case studies on wins and losses. Can we think of gritty-parties to celebrate unique achievements of gritty?
For this purpose, following deterrent myths need backtracking:
Grit is not talent: Talent is inborn whereas grit is genetic to a very less extent. Being elastic, grit is a developmental trait. Individuals evolve when constantly apply grit by accomplishing increasingly tougher tasks and boosting efficiency. Therefore, the grit-needle is a floating measure. Ferventness of gritty attracts positive customer attention.
Intelligence is not grit: Intelligence is a natural ability of discretion. Grit is a skill of discretion, developed hands on. Grit and intelligence form components of individual’s potential along with other behavioral ingredients. The indomitable spirit that enthralls customer.
"The customer experience is the next competitive battleground," said Jerry Gregoire. Customers perceive our organization through behaviors of employees. Extremely satisfied customers turn extremely loyal. Grit, a key visible stimulator, can influence a disruption in customer relationship.
When Finland established as the grittiest nation in history against grueling invasions, why an organization cannot?
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and his employer does not subscribe to the substance or veracity of the views)