Ignite A Customer-Centric Culture With Customer Insights

If you read my last post, you understand the importance of supplementing quantitative customer data with insights gleaned through interviews and observational research. But as shocking as this might sound, deep customer insights aren’t the ultimate objective. Your real aim is to deliver a customer experience that drives customer loyalty, revenue, and cost savings. And this is something that you cannot do alone.

There’s an entire ecosystem of both frontline staff (like retail associates and customer service reps) and behind-the-scenes employees (like those in finance, legal, and human resources) who must work in concert to support customers. To function optimally, this ecosystem needs to be rooted in a common set of attitudes and behaviors that guide customer-centric decisions and actions every single day.

Building such a customer-centric culture is a multipronged initiative. Standard culture-building tactics include hiring candidates who embody a service focus, training for soft skills, and recognizing employees who exhibit the behaviors you’re trying to reinforce. In addition, you need to create a shared understanding of who your customers are and what they need and want from your brand—and that’s where all those deep customer insights come into play.

Ideally, you should invite employees from across the ecosystem to participate in qualitative customer research. But practical limitations—like the number of people who can realistically visit a customer’s home or the timing/frequency of thesestudies—typically limit in-person participation to just a sliver of the organization.

Fortunately, there are many tools that can help you effectively share research outputs and start to shift your corporate culture. A few of my favorites include:

  • Videos. Short video montages of customer interviews deliver your customers’ thoughts and emotions in their own words. Because there’s no layer of analysis to sanitize or abstract their comments, videos can deliver that figurative punch in the gut that helps employees rethink their behavior.
  • Personas. Personas are archetypes that represent customer behavioral segments. They read like fictional characters, each with its own name, age, occupation, and backstory—but while the details are, strictly speaking, made up, they’re based on aggregate customer insights uncovered through quantitative and qualitative research. Personas help to create a customer-centric culture by encouraging employees to talk specifically about what “Simon” (a father of two) or “Emily” (a college student) would need or want from a particular product or interaction.
  • Journey maps. Customer journey maps are illustrations of the interactions your customers have with your company (and their feelings about those interactions) over a given period of time. These diagrams help employees understand what customers really experience and what their pain points are. They also help employees see how their own work connects with that of others in the ecosystem.

Corporate cultures don’t flip overnight. But sharing customer insights can spark a change towards customer-centricity by helping your employees feel a stronger connection to customers. And over time, that will help refocus their daily work on delivering a great customer experience.



Kerry Bodine is an independent customer experience consultant and the co-author of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. She’s a regular contributor to the Underline blog, so look here for future posts. Kerry also tweets at @kerrybodine.