November 19, 2021

Creating a Customer Experience Culture

It doesn’t matter if it’s sales, marketing, or risk management—culture and strategy always go hand-in-hand. The same goes for customer experience culture—customer-centricity starts from the inside.

When done right, a strong CX culture actually informs all other strategies.

Creating a culture that puts customers first drives more sales, boosts your brand’s reputation, and sets the stage for long-term relationships with loyal customers. It also enables a better, faster, and more accurate identification of customer pain points and, in turn, more tailored ways to solve them.

But, building a customer-focused culture is a major undertaking—arguably the most challenging AND most crucial element in any CX strategy. Below, we’ll discuss what it takes to make it happen.

What is a Customer-Centric Culture?

Contrary to popular belief, a company doesn’t have to put the customer experience at the core of every business decision to have a customer-driven culture.

In reality, customer-centricity is a strategy that prioritizes initiatives designed to craft positive experiences for customers and employees.

All strategies—from sales, service, and marketing to product development and the high-level game plan—are driven by the services that can produce a positive experience for customers while generating profitable business lines.

In terms of culture, Qualtrics XM Institute defines organizational culture as what a company’s employees think and believe, and how they behave. Think Starbucks and its relationship-driven, employees-first approach. The brand works to create an inclusive, family-style environment for its workers while also making patrons feel at home in their coffee shops.

Before proceeding with a CX strategy, ask yourself:

Do employees buy into the organization’s vision and understand why it’s critical?

  • Are they committed to the vision?
  • Do their behaviors align with the strategy?

What Does a Customer-Centric Culture Look Like?

1. It Starts with Good, Complete Data Sets

You can’t develop a customer-focused culture unless you’ve already got a strong data-driven culture in place. What’s more, you can’t focus on the customer if you can’t access and act on those data insights—fast.

Since customer data can take many forms across both traditional face-to-face and online channels, you need to maintain an accurate inventory of all existing sources while continuing to look for new data sets.

The need to leverage useful, complete, and accurate data is growing as campaigns become more sophisticated and personalized.

Having full control over your data ecosystem will allow you to:

  • Create customer-focused mission, vision, and values
  • Classify known customers and map ideal journeys
  • Surface new needs and identify ways to deliver more value to current customers and acquire new ones

2. CX Culture is Driven from the Top

Typically, sales and marketing teams are the ones who vocalize the importance of creating a customer experience culture. For companies to successfully envision, implement, and maintain customer-centricity, a meaningful cultural shift is needed. This shift occurs when the improvement of the CX experience is passionately and decisively driven by the top executives along with the rank and file. To truly lead by example, C-level empowers leadership to designate a team of CX champions to spearhead efforts within each department.

The customer-first mentality should be a collective effort involving the entire organization, with everyone being in alignment around the same set of goals and best practices. This is key to ensuring consistency—one of the most critical elements of any customer experience culture strategy.

3. Invest in Customer Service

Superior customer service should focus on the customer, not the company. In fact, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t prioritize their customers.
Evaluate every point of interaction between your business and your customers and refine your strategy accordingly. Not only does investing in customer service drive growth and ease customer concerns, but it builds trust and aids in decision-making.

Areas to focus on:

  • Delivering faster response and resolution times
  • Improving quality of insights
  • Designing a more seamless, convenient experience
  • Providing a positive employee experience

When these combined traits are fostered, you are equipping your friendly, knowledgeable reps with the tools/training to support customers.

4. Support Should Be Everyone’s Job

Building on our last point, support needs to be everyone’s responsibility. That doesn’t necessarily mean the entire staff is on phone duty. Instead, solutions are developed with support in mind.

Remember—customers aren’t privy to what’s going on behind the scenes. The only thing they see is your brand and anything that happens with your brand represents the organization as a whole.

Each email, call, live chat conversation, and support ticket is just as critical as the internal communication and carefully crafted social media campaign you send out.

A few suggestions to keep everyone on the same page:

Product/IT teams: Use feedback to improve CX solutions or create new ones. Product/IT teams should collaborate and coordinate with sales and marketing team reps to verify that they solved the problem as efficiently as expected.

Sales and marketing teams: Address problems proactively during buyer interactions with product/IT team support when needed, update sales collateral and marketing materials on an ongoing basis leveraging feedback loops, and continually refresh knowledge base content.

5. Involve Customers in Decisions About Your Business

Customers should play a crucial role in a company’s marketing decisions.

If you want to turn customers into brand advocates, you need to work toward streamlining lines of communication between your team and your customers. Collect info via polls, direct interactions, social media groups, and conduct interviews to learn more about your customers’ needs and problems they are looking to solve.

Make sure you route insights to the right people and devise a plan for addressing feedback and following up.

Once you’ve collected the feedback, showcase your customers’ success stories in the form of case studies or video testimonials. Video, in particular, tends to be a quick, effective way for customers to participate in your business. Video increases authenticity, and according to Gartner, it’s the third-highest ranked value that customers identify with.

6. Establish a System to Measure & Improve

Measuring and building on your progress is another reason why data is so essential. A continuous improvement cycle allows you to measure your ability to meet customer needs and solve their problems.

Opt to measure performance against feedback (gathered from surveys, social listening, support tickets, communication with support or sales, etc.) You might analyze those metrics against churn rates, revenue, time to resolution, etc., to identify where you need to improve your product/service.

You can then leverage those insights to communicate the rationale for previous investments, validate whether any enhancements have taken place, set future business goals, or intervene when necessary corrective action.

Final Thoughts

While being product and sales-driven is critical to a company’s bottom line, a sharp focus on CX culture should be part of the fabric of every business. But you can’t build a culture in a day. They develop over time and need to evolve with the shifting demands of your customers.

Customer-centricity should be established as a core value.

Align leaders who advocate and practice these values company-wide and empower employees to keep an eye toward the future while paying persistent attention to the present. In turn, by creating a customer experience culture that exceeds expectations, both your employees and your customers benefit.

To find out more about how 3Pillar Global experts can help you reach new markets, build breakthrough solutions, or completely revamp the customer experience, contact an expert today.

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.