Instead of diving straight in and talking about customer-driven culture, let’s talk about something that we all can relate to, movements.
To create change in your organization and to become more customer-driven, you need to spark a movement.
Find the mini tribe in your business: that other person who, like you, believes the company should be more customer-driven. Don’t worry about convincing the entire business or getting frustrated about the time it takes to change. Forget everything that “should be,” and focus on what is now and what “can be” in 48-hours time.
In the article 10 Principles of Organizational Culture, Jon Katzenbach explains:
“What people actually do matters more than what they say or believe. And so to obtain more positive influences from your cultural situation, you should start working on changing the most critical behaviors, and the mind-sets will follow. Over time, altered behavior patterns and habits can produce better results.”
After finding your first follower, you’ll start to see other followers coming to join the movement. Slowly but surely, bit by bit, you’ll see change occur.
If you already have your first follower, focus on brainstorming ideas that you both could execute to start putting the customer at the center of every decision, a good first step is to visit one customer or invite one customer to the office. It could be running a user testing session, doing a video interview and sharing your findings with the rest of the team. No matter how small, taking initiative and sharing results is the best way to get more people interested. If you have already some initiatives in place, can you help teams that are often removed from customers get a bit more insights into your research? Think of ideas on how you can start engaging senior people in the organization around the value of formalizing customer experience initiatives.
Start with a simple of list of ideas that you think will help improve your customer experience and have open conversations with multiple teams in the organization. Don’t worry about your ideas being rejected, the purpose of the conversation is not to get permission or support. The purpose is to get people thinking about customers.
In the context of becoming more customer-driven, you’ll know the movement you seek is taking place when:
- Engineers ask for user feedback or the story behind a requirement
- When customers visit the office (i.e. someone on the team invited them!)
- When sharing customer insights happens regularly among the team
- When your customer support team actively participates in product and design conversations
- When your entire team are able to communicate with customers directly
- When your team values qualitative data as much as they value quantitative data
- When user research is a thing many people do and not one person in one team
- When your company starts allocating more time and resources to retention strategies
- When everybody has access to customer insights and sharing knowledge about the customers is encouraged
- When your sales team feels heard and can actively participate in UX and CX conversations
- When the business does the right thing for the customer regardless of the circumstances
- When helpfulness is more important than processes
- When you stop thinking about customers as numbers or leads and start thinking about them as people
Becoming Customer-Driven Is An Organizational Shift
If we haven’t driven this point home yet: becoming customer-driven is an organization-wide initiative. Being customer-driven should not only impact your core values but define them. Your efforts are going to impact strategies across departments and how your team is structured. Making your customer feedback centralized and available means instilling open, honest, and fluid communications across teams and the entire organization.
You’re going to have to make a lot of changes to build a movement. You don’t have to wait until all these pieces are aligned, of course. Otherwise, your movement will never start. But once you do start, you have to understand that you may have to restructure your processes, redefine your organizational values, and make sure people have the right incentive in place to focus on the customer. For example, setting sales targets based on the right customer, not just any customer.
Making this happen is a matter of staying focused, measuring the impact, and communicating that with the team. If everyone can see how the product and organization are growing for the better, they’ll be happy to be working towards a customer-focused culture.
As Bret Scofield, Interaction Designer at Sumo Logic puts it in this interview,
“It’s a combination of making customers and their feedback incredibly visible and accessible to everyone, but then also having the hard data available to back it up. When you’re working with engineers, it helps to have numbers supporting things. Being able to quickly point people to a visualization of customer comments has really helped us with internal buy-in, and on our journey of working more customer-centered.”
You are leading this movement and that requires not only your focus but your ability to persist and get everybody excited about the journey.