Create a customer-centric company culture

Contributors

@paul-boag


Business Benefits

Establish structure and behaviors with a customer-centered culture.


Produce data insights (interview how customers use the product) and show them to different company teams, from back-end engineers to customer success specialists, to convince them to focus and care more about customers.

Focus on collecting feedback from customers in targeted segments. Record, transcribe and sum up customer interviews to highlight weaknesses and be able to suggest improvements for each different team where you present the data.

Show people also the potential financial impact from investing in customer experience improvement, such as modeling an annual revenue growth based on a 1% increase in conversion as a result of the improvements.

Launch short prototyping projects to test new possible initiatives.

Bring together experts from cross silos and get them rapidly developing ideas that can be tested. Keep the cost of experimenting low using short prototyping sprints such as the design sprint technique used by Google.

Help teams experiment by clearly defining what success looks like and a mechanism for testing whether the prototype has succeeded. At the end of a prototyping project use the results of testing to decide whether the idea should be:

  • Shelved as ineffective.
  • Go into full production.
  • Go through further iteration before production.

Create an expert team, CoE “center of excellence”, to work across all growth teams, conduct experiments for other teams, run education programs to train personnel, and support the company’s overall change management effort.

Use CoE to communicate the CX work and results while also facilitating discussions across teams to get people working together on customer-centric improvements. Disband CoE when their mission is accomplished, such as they’ve helped other teams upskill and work independently.

Or keep the CoE as a permanent fixture and a source of innovation. Use the team to help govern the overall approach to customer-centricity and experimentation, setting working practices across teams like agile methodologies and aligning tools stacks.

Develop a Chief Customer Officer or Customer Experience Officer (CCO) role, to execute a CE-orientated strategy set by the CEO.

Use direct C-Suite access as the most straightforward way to set up a customer-experience organization for success. While the CEO sets time and resources to develop the CCO role and CE strategy, the CCO role is more executive to the policy and does what’s envisioned.

Tweak company structure by reorganizing into smaller cross-functional teams focused on different customer journeys or segments, so instead of having one organization team of 500 people, build for example, 100 teams with 5 people.

For instance, Simon Harrow, Chief Customer Officer at iG04, sought a reorganizing team solution by formally bringing together all the functions that customers would interact with. This created company-wide accountability for the customer experiences and moved any issue from being within a company function like product design and engineering, to being centered on the customer.

Run a market analysis to see if customers value customization or responsiveness, and whether reorganizing to cross-functional teams will be a competitive advantage for the company before deciding to restructure.

While 30% of Fortune 500 firms already organize themselves around customer groups by realigning teams, a process that can take several years, a reorg of your business functions isn’t right for everyone.

According to Harvard Business Reviews, 69% of businesses structured around customers that operated in highly competitive markets, had lower performance than their product-centric peers. Moreover, businesses that reorganized to be customer-focused in low-profitability industries where customers don’t particularly value customization or responsiveness performed 20% lower than companies whose structure was not aligned with customers.

McKinsey found that companies focused on customer journeys had a 50% wider gap in customer satisfaction than those that focused on touchpoints.

Use senior management to organize fluid cross-functional, customer-oriented teams, with enough skills and resources to work on the end-to-end journey for example, engineering, product, and marketing.

Use the CCO person to get the attention of the C-suite on cross-functional teams by sharing insights that show how aligning different teams could impact the product or various aspects of the business. Share trends, what people think you should sell, customer service pain points, and name conventions.

Don’t give each functional team the same information to avoid confusion or generate a disjointed experience for the customer. Limit how big teams are to avoid team inefficacy. For instance, use Jeff Bezos’ “two-pizza rule”: If you need more than two pizzas to feed everyone on your team, your team is too big.

Choose which teams in the company stay the same.

Not every team in the company needs to be reorganized. For instance, some may need to follow channel and delivery units like in retail stores. Some disciplines will remain as functionally structured teams or flow to work groups, such as corporate support activities like HR.

Set KPIs and use even-over statements to help new teams prioritize the things they have to do to improve KPI, and reward them for each achievement.

Pick one good thing that should take priority, even over another good thing, typically in conflict with one another, for example, customer satisfaction even over revenue, or security even over UX. Get your team to vote on their top three, with each person getting three votes.

For example, online money transfer service Wise has its performance marketing team responsible and accountable for advertising on Facebook and Google. This team can make changes to any part of the product they believe will improve conversion from the performance. Their customer-focused KPIs prioritize the things that will make a difference to customers. The team does not have roadmap meetings nor strategy sessions. With KPI ownership, there’s enough clarity to work across the entire experience and make KPI happen.

Determine the who and how for team decisions at the very start of the team formation to make the team able to bring its own decisions.

Clarify who on the team has an ultimate say beyond KPIs and priorities. Clear the slate for when is someone required to get additional people involved, when shouldn’t decisions be made in isolation, and when are multiple perspectives needed.

For example, online money transfer service Wise has teams that are autonomous and independent, an example being their currencies team, that each quarter decides which currencies it’s going to launch. While no one outside the team can tell this team what currencies to launch, anyone on the team can challenge the decision. The team always has to have a rationale for explaining why it’s focusing where it is. In practice, it comes down to empowering teams to listen to customers and not to someone high up.