Category Archives: customer experience

BIV Boardroom Strategy: Your business strategy needs to focus on what your customers care about

[read time: 4 mins]

As you go about your day-to-day business, it’s easy to get caught up in a flurry of activity that doesn’t really mean a thing to your customer.

Making the decision to be more “customer-focused” is easy, but making the shift toward a customer-focused approach is another story. It requires putting customers at the centre of business decisions, company-wide, and consistently thinking about what you can do to meet or beat your customers’ expectations. It’s not an initiative that can be taken on by one department alone, but one that sees the customer become the driving force behind everything your company does.

A pro-active plan to be more customer-focused can generate trust in your brand and create a partnership between you and your greatest asset: your customers.

Here are five ways to move your strategy toward a customer-focus.

  • Make it authentic. If I had to pick one thing that can either make or break a customer-focused initiative, it’s authenticity. A customer-focused initiative that’s authentic shows up in a corporate culture in different ways. Money, resources, passion and accountability are all powerful signals from management that the customer experience is a priority. It requires getting people passionate about the business you’re really in – so much so that your customers get wrapped up in the experience of doing business with you. Every member of your team is critical to the customer experience.
  • Get everyone on the same page. This might seem like stating the obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Uncover the multiple interpretations of customer-focused initiatives and ensure everyone understands what is required to be truly customer focused. Take a look at cross-departmental initiatives. Do they work together from your customers’ perspective? Limit the initiatives that run counter to your customer focus and reduce the silos by communicating what needs to be done across the organization so customers are not getting lost between departments.
  • Consistently ask, “What’s in it for me?” Evaluate decisions and actions by continuously putting yourself in your clients’ shoes and asking, “What’s in it for me?” Make WIIFM part of your culture, and commit to understanding how everything you do affects your customer. Evaluate goals by asking how they show that you understand and value your customers.
  • Try a new approach. When it comes to customer-focused initiatives, ask yourself: are we doing things this way just because it’s the way we’ve always done it? What used to work, might not work anymore. Are your new initiatives just adjusted versions of things you’ve already tried, with a different name? Make a change. Instead of spending time looking for opportunities to make more money from your customers in the short-term, be on the lookout for opportunities to build loyalty and trust.
  • Turn ideas into action. Two of the best ways to guarantee action on any initiative are relevant resource allocation and metrics. Send a message about what’s important by setting up measures of success that are focused on the customer experience, satisfaction, retention and loyalty – and give them as much value as sales and marketing metrics. Then, consider how your resource allocation might be running counter to your customer-focused initiatives, and rework them to support your efforts.

If you’re looking for inspiration from companies that have excelled at making the customer their No. 1 priority, pick up a copy of The Starbucks Experience or The New Gold Standard (about the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain), both written by Joseph A. Michelli.

Mike Desjardins is the CEO at ViRTUS (, an organizational development consulting firm. This column was co-written by Shannon Lawder, content director at ViRTUS.

Click here for the original article in PDF:  BIV Boardroom Strategy – April 2010 – Customer Experience.


The quickest way to measure your corporate culture.

[read time: 2 mins]

One of the biggest challenges in corporate culture is finding ways to effectively measure and gauge the strength of your culture. Over the past decade companies have used various survey methodologies in an attempt to uncover the truth about their cultures with the most popular one being an Employee Engagement Survey. The problem is that these surveys are time consuming, difficulty to analyze without outside support, and require a fair investment to implement.

The answer for companies who aren’t ready to take the plunge into instituting a full-blown employee engagement survey actually comes from the world of customer experience. By combining two questions together you can create an easy to use survey that’s fast and efficient, and so simple to complete that your response level will also be considerably higher (important with any type of survey).

First, we need to talk about the The Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS was designed to measure how likely clients are to recommend a product or service to a friend. Satmetrix Systems, the company behind NPS, researched companies that experienced above average profitable growth and their research showed that customers who answered one simple question with a 9 or 10, are promoters of your business, customers who answer 7-8 are passive, and anyone that ranks your company 6 or less is actually a detractor – they are highly likely to actively recommend that people not do business with you. The question, “How likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague?”

Here’s how to modify the NPS for a simple corporate culture survey: take the Net Promoter Score question and alter it slightly to focus on your employees’ perception of your business instead of your customers:
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend to friend or family member that they come work at our company?
2. If you gave a score of 8 or less, what would need to change in order for your answer to be a 9 or 10?

Using these two questions you can rapidly put a corporate culture survey in place. Although this will not give you the richness of a full Employee Engagement Survey, these two questions will provide you valuable insight into the core areas that you need to pay attention to now.

*If you’re interested in learning more about Net Promoter Score, Harvard Business Review has a fantastic article that summarizes the entire concept entitled, “The Only Number You Need to Grow” (

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