How to Create a Customer-Centric Culture

by Shep Hyken

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

Creating a Customer Centric-Culture — That’s a lot of words that begin in C. Well, this article is about D’s. Growing up, a D in school wasn’t a very good grade. Where I went to school, sometimes a D was slang terminology for a demerit, which meant I spent a Saturday morning at school in study hall — Not a great way for a kid to spend a Saturday. However, you and your company will want the following D’s, especially if customer service and building a customer-centric culture are important to you. And I know they are!

The Six D’s of Creating a Customer-Centric Culture

  1. Define it. Customer service is part of your brand promise. It is what you want your employees to deliver. It is what you want the customer to experience. Make it clear and make it simple. For example, Ace Hardware, known for its customer service, is the “Helpful Hardware Place.” The company has defined customer service as being Helpful, and in their hiring, training and customer interactions, they make it clear that Helpful is what they are all about.
  2. Disseminate it. Don’t keep it a secret. You’ve defined the customer service experience, but at this point it’s just lip service. Now you must train your employees on how to deliver it. The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain has laminated cards with its “credo” and several other important core values printed on it. Employees carry the card with them, and in many cases, have memorized it.
  3. Deploy it. It’s time to execute. The employees have been trained. Now, it is time to implement and act on the customer service initiative. Everyone must know it and be on board with it — even people who don’t have any contact with your customers. They have internal customers who they support. Customer service is everyone’s job.
  4. Demonstrate it. Now that everyone knows it and has been trained, everyone must demonstrate it. Leaders must, through their actions, show everyone how it’s done — and everyone else should do the same.  Everyone becomes a role model for how to deliver amazing customer service.
  5. Defend it.  If you see someone doing anything contrary to what you want the customer to experience, you step in to help. This isn’t about reprimanding or calling someone out for doing something wrong. This is a teaching opportunity that, when treated as such, creates a culture that comfortably empowers employees to deliver great customer service.
  6. Delight in it! Take pride and delight in the success you have with your customers. Celebrate the success of the company and individuals who have demonstrated amazing customer service.

Copyright © MMXIV Shep Hyken – Used with permission.


shepShep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business go to Hyken.com.
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