Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Attention Business Leaders!
How To Encourage A Customer-Oriented Culture

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests, and economic volatility, businesses nationwide are navigating uncharted territory. As society moves forward, business leaders face a unique challenge: maintaining a customer-oriented culture in the face of lost profits, layoffs, and hardship.

Despite significant revenue declines, businesses need to continue focusing on the customer in order to sustain their operations. Everyone has been impacted in some capacity by the recent historical events. By embracing an empathetic attitude that’s geared toward exceptional customer service, business leaders maximize their opportunity to grow.

1. Incorporate Metrics

Which key performance indicators (KPIs) do you monitor most closely? Are they geared toward customer satisfaction, or your bottom line? Although data analysts have a heavy preference for easily quantifiable data such as traffic, conversions, and revenue, people are the driving factor behind the most important statistics.

Perhaps you’re unsure about how you can gather customer satisfaction data. If so, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Social media sentiment reports
  • In-house surveys
  • Email feedback reports
  • Website and social media comments

By establishing a data collection and analysis loop centered around the customer, your business can begin making meaningful changes that lead to long-lasting improvements.

2. Encourage Feedback

How open to feedback are your employees? Do they listen to what customers say in order to provide better service?

Customer-facing staff members are pivotal for your business. If your team isn’t asking for feedback during everyday interactions, your business may need a culture shift.

By asking simple questions, your employees can develop a more meaningful relationship with your most valuable customers or clients. Best of all, the interactions can be natural, fitting seamlessly into a typical conversation.

Here are a few example questions your staff could begin asking to improve the customer experience:

  • Did you find everything you were looking for?
  • What can we do to better meet your needs?
  • Is there anything you wish we had (or did) to better serve you?
  • What do you like most about shopping (or working) with us?
  • How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?

Seemingly simple questions can go a long way. Not only will your customers feel more valued, but you will gain valuable insight to attract new customers.

3. Provide Training

Ideas will never be actualized without implementation. Training is an excellent way to ensure your team understands your goals, knows their role, and implements the plan.

Great training programs start with an “inward-out” approach, centering around the customer. By guiding your team through visualization exercises that place them in the shoes of your customers, you can better understand their wants and needs.

Of note, training is not a “one-and-done.” Exceptional training programs are reinforced over a long period of time, providing consistency, clarity, and value with each session.

Training can even take place in a virtual setting using tools like Zoom, Skype, and GoToMeeting.

4. Revisit Your Mission Statement

When is the last time you looked at your mission statement? Is your mission statement a living, breathing part of your company – or a check in the box?

Customer-focused companies have a mission statement that reflects their priorities.

Although frequently changing a mission statement is not a best practice, a well thought out change could be warranted if you feel that the current mission statement is not an accurate reflection of your goals and priorities

Moving Forward

Your business has an exciting opportunity to grow in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. By doing your due-diligence on the front end, you can make long-lasting, positive changes.

Focus on the customer.

By creating a customer-oriented culture, you will experience positive changes that touch every aspect of your operations.


  1. Rick Roberts

    Great article Mary
    I hope you’re doing well!
    I’ve got another book coming out in about a month, I’ll Be Your Father

    • Mary Kelly

      Thank you, Rick! And big congrats on the new book!!

  2. William Higgins

    These will work as well in the non-profit world. It is a duality , providing services as required to meet your mission, then using clarity with donors to encourage repeat or new donors. Engagement is continuous, not just for an annual pledge drive. Sharing how that donation is used is essential.

    • Mary Kelly

      All great points! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback.


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