Customer Experience: Lack of Organizational Culture

By Dan Kesselring of CMA's Customer Experience Council

The following is the second in a series of Blogs by various members of the CMA Customer Experience Council.  The series will discuss various aspects of how to embed a company’s commitment to Customer Experience within their organization. Read the first blog post and second blog post in the series.

How aligned is your culture with your strategy and customer experience? Few leaders are not painfully aware of the famous Peter Drucker quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. Yet how coveted is culture and how many leaders pay purposeful attention to it? Since 1955, 89% of the Fortune 500 listed have come and gone!  When culture is ignored it can lead to an organization’s demise. And when it is well managed, it can lead to leading business performance.

Culture can be elusive. It can be hard to see unlike many other things in business and feel nebulous. So what is culture? Culture is often defined in the Business world as “The way we do things around here”. A more textbook way of describing culture is that it’s essentially about VALUES and organizational norms. Sounds pretty important, yet many organizations neglect to align the organization’s culture with its strategy and customer experience.  Without this critical imperative, business execution becomes difficult and both customer experience and core business outcomes are jeopardized.

Dan Pontefract is the Chief Envisioner of TELUS. His first role at the company was as its Chief Learning Officer where he helped spearhead the introduction of the TELUS Leadership Philosophy, a behavioural based leadership model used to help guide team members at all levels in the organization. “If a company truly wants to put its customers first,” he said, “it must also re-engineer the way people work with one another such the culture is more open and collaborative, regardless of title or rank.”

To be successful, culture needs to be genuine, sustainable and embraced from the top as well as from the bottom up. Unlike the typical tendency to merely make our environments sensible and meaningful, creating authentic culture requires work at developing a consistent and predictable view of how things are and how they should be. Shaping culture is a systemic undertaking that’s not unlike sustaining an ecosystem, in which various elements must work together to reach a healthy balance. Looking at how culture translates into customer value – an organization’s components (its employees) must work together to meet customers’ needs.

Pontefract said, “We purposefully used the metaphor and emblem of Canada Geese to depict the TELUS Leadership Philosophy. The journey from point A to B is to put your customers first, to continuously improve the customer experience. To do so, however, the flock—in this case TELUS team members from coast to coast to coast—must work as a single unit, taking turns at the front, rotating leadership as necessary, and collaborating as often as possible if it wants to reach its various goals. In part this has defined part of the success at TELUS.”

Brand loyalty is garnered through positive experiences your customers have on a consistent basis constituted by the collective behaviours of the organization.  At the root of all behaviour are VALUES. More and more culture is standing out as the predominant competitive advantage. There is no more customer experience strategy, there is business strategy with customer experience woven into the core. And it is very much a cultural issue. 

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Tags: customer experience, culture, strategy, brand loyalty, values, telus, fortune 500