EXPEDIA GROUP TECHNOLOGY — INNOVATION
10 Ways to Build a Customer-Centric Culture in Tech Organizations
Drive Customer-Centricity and Win with Customers
Whether you are a Tech Platform, an E-commerce Organization, or a B2B SAAS Company, it’s important to stay on top of new customer trends and develop strategies that will continue to entice your targeted customers across the funnel.
According to many recent statistics, organizations that provide delightful customer experiences outperform their competitors.
Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t. (Source — Hubspot)
Also, Salesforce surveyed over 6,000 consumers and found that 66% expected companies to understand their needs and expectations.
It’s no surprise that customer centricity is a key priority, as it helps address customer opportunities with speed, and increases Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty, which has downstream goodness on Customer Lifetime Value (with upsell, cross-sell, basket size, repeat purchase, and referral opportunities - increasing the revenue per customer).
Having a Customer-Centric Culture also helps roll out products and services which resonate with the target audience, helping unlock business growth.
Despite this, according to research by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, only 14% of marketers say that customer centricity is a hallmark of their companies, and only 11% believe their customers would agree with that characterization.
Why do so many organizations find it difficult to get customer-centricity right? The reasons may range from lack of systems and processes, to technical ability to analyze the customer journey and the dynamic volume of data. But the most common reason is the lack of customer-centric culture.
Most tech companies remain product or sales-focused, and customer centricity is siloed to specific functions like marketing. But building a truly customer-centric culture starts with everyone in the organization cultivating this mindset in their approach and decision-making at a grassroots level.
A focus on virtuous Customer Flywheel can supercharge the growth of Tech organizations. It starts with keeping the customer at the center and a maniacal focus on delighting the customer at every touchpoint. This will lead to more traffic and conversion, pulling more suppliers towards the platform, which in turn will drive greater width of relevant offerings at more competitive prices, which will drive further improvement in customer experience, thus leading to a self-sustaining virtuous cycle boosting business growth.
So, how can tech organizations build a truly customer-centric culture? Let’s check out 10 proven ways to ingrain this culture in the organization and help supercharge the business growth with an engaged, high-performance team and a continuous stream of growing loyal customers.
1. Cultivate a Customer-Centric Mindset
A customer-centric mindset is a fundamental approach that puts the customer at the center of every business decision. Customer-Centricity is not a fad but a long-term commitment and obsession to continuously improve the customer experience.
Improving customer experience starts with a deep understanding of the target customer, empathy towards their needs and desires, and working backward from there in terms of the design of products, processes, and everyday decision-making.
“We see our customers as guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job daily to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
- Jeff Bezos, Amazon
At Expedia Group™, with our ambition to be the World’s Leading Travel Tech Platform, we keep the Traveler at the center of what we do and continuously challenge ourselves to innovate and build for our travelers. Whether it’s the company CEO or an Intern starting their journey with our organization — a traveler-centric mindset is a baseline expectation we strive to uphold across our global team.
2. Apply Customer Lens to Innovate Continuously
While Tech organizations continue to innovate and challenge existing norms, over time, they may become too internally focused, which can adversely impact the customer experience.
We must put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and experience our products and services from a customer lens. It helps us identify the opportunities across the customer journey and address them proactively to enhance the customer experience and raise the bar at every customer touchpoint, thus delighting the customer.
One of the things we expect our teams to do in Expedia Group is to put ourselves in the travelers’ shoes via store walkthroughs, where we experience our store and offerings as a traveler or roadshows where teams showcase their products and take feedback from a wider group to drive continuous improvement.
3. Define Success Metrics to Build a Customer-Centric Culture
As someone rightly said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” It holds true when building a customer-centric culture as well.
Organizations can start by building Customer-centric metrics around in-store experience, selection, pricing, convenience, customer support, or other areas relevant to the business.
In large tech organizations, diverse and cross-functional teams working on their core area of expertise can become siloed. Creating these customer success Benchmarks brings together a cohesive view of how all those efforts impact the customer experience. It also helps spot leakages or potential risks, so the team can proactively work on the same.
4. Start Every New Idea with a Press Release
I have seen many organizations spend a considerable amount of time and energy on building a new product or refining an existing one, only to realize that it doesn’t click with the market, leading to a waste of resources.
One way to address this is to imagine how the new product or service will be communicated to the customer and whether it makes for a compelling narrative. This is a process followed quite rigorously at Amazon and has led to many product innovations which have resonated with customers.
So, when your tech team is trying to build on a new product, you can instill a process where they need to start with a press release that communicates what the new product or service is, what features and benefits it provides, and elicit feedback from neutral teams to refine the release.
Starting this way ensures that the new product or service resonates with the customers and increases the probability of success multifold.
Try it when you are working on your next design or development project; it works!
5. Customer Obsession across the Organization Funnel
One of the most impactful ways to build a customer-centric culture in a tech organization is to ensure that customer has a seat at the table (visual imagery, of course!) for every discussion.
This helps think from a customer perspective during decision-making or prioritization. It is also a great way to resolve conflict or dilemmas by truly thinking customer backwards.
Tech organizations who can institutionalize this not only within the team but also upstream (Suppliers, Vendors) and downstream (distribution channels, customer touchpoints) will immensely benefit from enhanced customer trust and loyalty, supercharging their growth.
“We want travelers to have great experiences and ensure partners get credit for the experiences they deliver. Our goal is to build trust with travelers.”
- Expedia Group
6. Leverage the Power of Data and Insights
One of the key facets of having a customer-centric culture is the ability to personalize for every customer, at scale.
Insights are key for personalization, which is the base for customer-centricity. Only when you know your customers can you shift your company culture to be customer-centric. When every interaction with the customer is documented and analyzed correctly, organizations can discover insights that can help teams unlock customer value.
Another key thing to do is to Democratize these customer insights, so irrespective of a team member working on a smaller part of the overall ecosystem, everyone can see the big picture of how the end-user experience with a product or service will look like.
This is inspirational, as employees can see the impact on the customer journey and are enabled to design products and services which are more customer-centric.
Additionally, Tech organizations also deploy various CRM tools to understand customer interactions, feedback, and pain points. Making these insights widely available helps everyone in the team to empathize with the customers and improves the velocity and effectiveness of decision-making.
7. Resist Proxies — Gain Customer Pulse
Customer centricity is also about anticipating customer needs through a deep understanding of customers. This can only happen when Tech teams move beyond data to connect with customers firsthand and observe them in real life.
Keeping a pulse on emerging customer trends through direct connection with customers, helps organizations in-grain a customer-centric culture and stay relevant. E.g., there has been a significant shift in customer behavior post-pandemic, and organizations that fail to keep up with this trend and lack innovation to address the latent customer needs won’t survive for long.
One of the ways I have found to be extremely effective in gaining customer insights is through listening in on customer service calls which provides a great firsthand view of customer experience and pain points.
Organizations can leverage multiple ways to gain deeper insights into the customers, like Customer surveys, In-Depth Interviews, Focus Group Discussions, Field visits, Decoding Customer Personas, Usability tests, and more.
This helps companies stay ahead of the curve, and spot the latent customer needs, before they articulate them, thus delighting the customer and creating a blue ocean of opportunity for continued profitable growth.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
- Henry Ford
8. Hire with Customer Centricity in Mind
A team passionate about solving for the customer is at the core of building a customer-centric culture in a tech organization.
Hence, it’s not only about coaching the team to be customer-centric but also about looking at hiring as a great opportunity to raise the bar with new talent who can challenge the status quo with a customer perspective.
So while hiring, make sure that you objectively look at how the candidate has innovated for customers in their past roles, challenged the status quo to improve customer experience, or implemented something meaningful through learning about customer needs.
9. Recognize and Reward Customer-Centric Behavior and Outcome
Customer Centric Culture can be ingrained further by recognizing and rewarding the appropriate behaviors and outcomes.
Take a moment to recognize team members who demonstrate customer-first behavior or celebrate outcomes that enhance the customer experience.
This brings consistency in large tech teams to understand what is important for the organizations, and overtime becomes a way of working and a value at the organization’s core.
10. Have a team that represents the customer spectrum
Having a diverse team that represents the customer spectrum can skyrocket your growth. Diversity in leadership and wider teams ensures a wide range of views, enhancing product and service innovation and relevance to the target audience.
But, having a diverse team is not enough. It needs to be complemented by creating a customer-centric culture that is inclusive of everyone’s views. So, educating leaders on creating an inclusive environment has a cascading effect that creates a thriving and engaged workplace where every team member is passionate about solving for the customer.
“Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Customer centricity is a quest for customer delight, which can help you supercharge your organization’s growth.
We at Expedia Group are continuously striving to build a Customer-Centric Culture, and Expedia Group’s recently announced Reimagined Platform has Traveler at the center of it.
“Our platform, combined with the innovations we announced today, is driven by our desire to put travelers first because we fundamentally believe that when travelers win — we all win.”
- Peter Kern, CEO, Expedia Group
I hope this secret sauce of how leading Tech Organizations build a thriving customer-centric culture inspires you and provides the toolkit to challenge the status quo and cultivate this culture in your organizations. 🚀