WSL: Costruire una Cultura Customer First

AICEX: Quando ti dicono che è in corso un progetto per avere una azienda Customer Centric e tu chiedi “ma i vostri dipendenti sono felici?” talvolta ti guardano come se avessi chiesto una cosa fuori tema. E così capisci che devi iniziare a spiegare che i primi clienti dell’azienda sono proprio i dipendenti.

CMOs can help their organizations create a customer centric environment by focusing on four attributes: collective vision, outside-in orientation, innovation, and shared values.

In today’s hyperconnected world, consumers have more choices than ever—and they often decide in a matter of seconds whether to do business with a brand. At the same time, the commerce model has changed dramatically. Gone are the days when brands’ relationships with customers developed through brick-and-mortar stores, one-on-one conversations, or trusted agents. Today, many consumers want to build relationships on their own terms, which can make it challenging for brands to create a customer experience (CX) that consistently delivers on their brand promise.

Consumers increasingly rely on the assessments of thousands of people sharing their experiences online. A Deloitte study found that 81 percent of consumers read reviews and check customer ratings. Among digital natives, this trend is even more pronounced: Three times as many millennials as baby boomers say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions, according to a Medallia study.

Moreover, today’s consumers have high expectations for seamless shopping experiences. With so many ways to shop—in stores, online, or via a mobile device—consumers want to buy products and services when, where, and how they like. They expect companies to interact with them in an easy, integrated fashion with very little friction across channels. For example, customers may want to buy online and pick up their items in a store. Or they may browse in the store, check prices on their phones, visit a company’s app, and wait to get home to decide what to buy. When they log in from home, these customers expect to see their items in their shopping carts.

In short, customers want companies to anticipate their needs through a maze of purchasing channels and technologies. When companies get it right, they can reap rich rewards through greater customer spending and loyalty.

Competing in the Age of the Customer

Many companies have discovered that creating and maintaining a successful business in the age of the customer depends, first and foremost, on developing a customercentric culture. In such an environment, leaders and employees understand the company’s brand promise and are committed to delivering an exceptional CX. Commitment to the customer is woven into the very fabric of the organization, and it plays a critical role in aligning functions, enabling agility, and spurring innovation.

Deloitte has identified four key pillars as part of its CulturePath™ framework that can be essential in helping CMOs establish a customer-first culture.

Develop a Collective Focus

Companies that provide superior CX invariably have a strong shared vision. Employees across functions and departments—from product developers and designers to sales staff and service agents—see customers as the company’s No. 1 priority. This encourages a commitment to customers that supersedes other priorities.

At Disney Resorts, for example, every employee is expected to know Disney’s four key values for creating guest happiness: safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. In addition, they are expected to know how the values are prioritized—safety is always first—and the types of behaviors that go along with each. Because Disney recognizes that providing a great CX requires strong management support, leaders are expected to uphold the principles in their work, making decisions and allocating resources in line with the company’s standards.

To develop a strong collective focus, CMOs can:
  • Invest in employee training and ongoing development to reinforce the company’s vision for serving customers
  • Provide customer feedback to all employees
  • Listen to employee input to identify ways to improve CX.

Cultivate an External Perspective

Customercentric companies have an external orientation that keeps them squarely focused on customers, competitors, and results. Rather than looking first at internal goals and capabilities, successful companies take an outside-in perspective, trying to see themselves—from their brand promise and reputation to their products and services—as their customers see them. They continually track customer feedback, as well as operational and behavioral data.

CMOS can aim to make it easy for customers to share their thoughts and suggestions through tactics such as surveys, web polls, and follow-up conversations. When companies use multiple channels to create an active dialogue, customers often provide valuable information.

To create an external orientation, companies can:

  • Determine which metrics are key for measuring CX and link them to outcomes that drive the greatest value for the business
  • Consider customer acquisition, social dialogue, and referral rates in addition to common CX metrics such as retention and churn rates
  • Leverage customer feedback by distributing it across functions, including marketing, product, sales, and service.

Spur Innovation

It’s important for companies to innovate continually to respond to fast-changing customer needs and expectations. This requires a corporate belief system that values failing fast and learning quickly and sees mistakes as learning opportunities.

Because customer-focused companies place a premium on change and innovation, they put in place policies that make risk a virtue if it produces an exceptional CX.

To promote innovation, customercentric companies empower employees with information and give them the autonomy to make decisions that can improve products and services. Such empowerment can help many employees become more comfortable trying out novel ideas, take carefully considered risks, and feel greater ownership of the customer experience.

Because customer-focused companies place a premium on change and innovation, they put in place policies that make risk a virtue if it produces an exceptional CX. For example, the Ritz-Carlton hotel brand allows every staff member to spend up to $2,000 to improve the experience of a single guest—without requiring prior approval from a general manager. The policy demonstrates a deep trust in employees’ judgment and signals that creating a wonderful stay sometimes requires going beyond standard procedures.

CMOs can help spur innovation by:

  • Empowering employees with data to personalize CX
  • Giving customers multiple ways to provide feedback
  • Rewarding risk-taking.

Foster Shared Beliefs

In virtually every strong culture, employees share a common ideology and commitment to core values. When employees’ beliefs align with a company’s values, an emotional connection can develop. In the case of customer-first companies, these beliefs often include a strong service mentality and desire to help others.

Customer-first companies go to great lengths to nurture and reinforce these beliefs. They emphasize them when recruiting and selecting new employees. They also create processes—such as extensive onboarding and recognition programs—to reinforce customercentric values and make them relevant to each employee.

To help develop a shared-belief system, companies can:

  • Survey employees to identify where beliefs and values may be misaligned
  • Create accountability systems that measure and reward employees for delivering or contributing to a great CX
  • Ensure that leaders remain emotionally connected to customers.


In the age of the customer, successful companies often deliver faster innovations, better service, and an overall experience that delights people so much they want to share it with others. Without a deep understanding of customer needs, companies will likely find themselves quickly losing ground to competitors more in tune with—and responsive to—customers’ changing expectations. By developing a customercentric culture, CMOs can help instill the understanding, sense of purpose, and emotional connection employees need to consistently deliver exceptional CX in line with a company’s strategy and value proposition.

AUTHOR: by Hilary Horn, managing director, and Nathan Sloan, principal, human capital, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Beth Benjamin, senior director, CX Strategy Research, Medallia, Inc.