Built to win: A Customer-centric culture starts with your employees

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Article highlights:

  • A successful contact center is customer-centric.
  • Annette Franz’s latest book focuses on this important concept.
  • RingCentral’s digital technology can fill the gap for companies looking to optimize their operations.

A successful company shouldn’t look solely at winning customers, but at developing a strong culture within.


👩‍💼 💫 Teamwork makes the dream work 💫 👨‍💼

 The key to building a customer-centric team: Enterprise edition eBook

The key to building a customer-centric team: Enterprise edition eBook

Happy reading!


At RingCentral, we believe that creating a work environment where employees are satisfied, engaged, and have the right tools to perform at their best is key to providing excellent customer service. As part of our Book Club, we look for literature that helps businesses win at the game of customer experience but employee experience as well.

Our latest addition to our Book Club is “Built To Win” by Annete Franz, which details 10 important principles for building a customer-centric organization. It all starts with building a people-first culture. It’s what’s on the inside of the company that matters.

This book was chosen to be part of the RingCentral Book Club to inspire leaders to think differently about customer centricity and about what it means to have a customer-centric culture. Many do not truly know what it means to be customer-centric. As Annette explains, it’s something that flows through the DNA of a company.

Culture = core value + behaviors

Everyone is familiar with the phrase, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” In the world of customer service, companies should ensure that everyone — from the CEO to the workers — is involved in the process of delivering impeccable service. The way management behaves and thinks should mirror how employees act and think, too.

Let’s get into the core principles of Annette’s latest book.

Principle 1. Culture is the foundation

Culture doesn’t happen without the right leadership. Ideally, culture should be designed and delivered. Companies either get the culture they design, or the one they allow. While it may be easier to acquiesce, companies that are active in creating a positive culture will reap the rewards.

If leaders do it, employees will follow, regardless if that behavior is good or bad.

Principle 2. Leadership commitment and alignment are critical

Leaders must be committed to the culture being designed, and that culture should be aligned across the board.

Not only that, but every person needs to work together toward a common goal and be committed to the mission. When members of the executive team do their own thing, the customer-centric culture suffers. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

Leaders need to take the reins and ensure every team player is on board with the same goal. Being a role model is critical here. While sometimes culture begins from ground up, most success comes when it’s driven by leaders.

Principle 3. Put employees first

If a company is going to put customers first, they need to put employees “more” first because employee experience drives customer experience. The customer experience may be the focal point, but it can be difficult to provide a positive experience if employees are not taken care of first. Happy employees equal happy customers.

Principle 4. People before products

Seth Godin once said, “Find products for your customers, not customers for your products.” This makes perfect sense, but some companies don’t understand this concept.

Companies shouldn’t blindly design products and expect people to want and buy them. What problem is being solved? What pain point is being alleviated?

Instead, companies should first be speaking with their customers to get to know what they want and need, then develop products around that.

smiling agent at work

Principle 5. People before profits

Profits are the ultimate outcomes that businesses need. However, success can only come when customers are happy and keep coming back for more. Ultimately, this means that businesses should be putting people before their profits. Doing so will allow the profits to come naturally.

Companies should take care of their employees before taking care of anyone else. Happier employees will better engage with customers, which will inevitably boost the bottom line.

Principle 6. People before metrics

Contact centers may use a variety of metrics to gauge how well their businesses are operating. But focusing too much on metrics could damage the experience of the customer.

For instance, handle time may be a good metric to look at to see how quickly a customer’s question is answered. But a short call handle time means nothing if the caller’s issue isn’t resolved.

Ultimately, it’s the person that should be focused on, and not necessarily the metrics used to improve customer experience.

Principle 7. Customer understanding

Understanding the customer is the cornerstone of customer centricity. It’s what sets the foundation of the business. Everything else a company does radiates from that.

No matter what question a company may be asking, it’s crucial to bring the customer’s voice in. There are three key ways to understand your customer:

  1. Listen. Mirror feedback and understand what the customer is looking for.
  2. Characterize. Understand the customers’ personas.
  3. Empathize. It’s all about the journey-mapping process to understanding where the customer is coming from and where they want to be.

Setting expectations and communicating is key to building relationships with customers.

Principle 8. Governance bridges organizational gaps

Governance is a big part of bridging the silos within an organization.

Firstly, there must be a cross-collaborative model in place. A business cannot have different departments with different models. Silos break down the communication piece, but by bridging these gaps and bringing everyone together, everyone can move in the same direction. At the end of the day, you’re only as strong as your weakest link, so it’s imperative that each team member is on board with what the end goal is.

Principle 9. Outside-in vs. inside-out

An “inside-out” mentality means a company thinks they know what’s best for their customers and who they are. But phrases like “I think” are bad for business because this assumes the company knows what’s best for the customer without bringing the customer’s voice in.

There needs to be a shift in that thinking. Rather than “I think,” team members should be confident in what the customer wants and what their paintings are. In this case, the phrase should be “I know the customer thinks.”

Principle 10. Forget the golden rule

The Golden Rule – “Do unto others what you would want done to you” – may have its place in the world, but perhaps not in the world of customer service. In fact, it may be prudent to forget this phrase, or modify it to be “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

By understanding customers’ pain points and needs, companies can then treat them accordingly. You might like to be treated one way, but your customers might prefer something else.

Annette shared some real gems in our webinar discussing her new book. We encourage you to check out the webinar yourself to find out more about how the culture in a company is more than just “fluff,” but something that has a real impact on all aspects of business.

Originally published Aug 05, 2022, updated Aug 08, 2022

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