How to differentiate with culture, customer centricity in a responsive organisation

How to differentiate with culture and customer centricity?

Already for a while I get more and more interested in a new way of working. A way of working that allows the "voice of the customer" throughout the organisation. That allows an organisation to respond quickly at customer's feedback. A way of working that makes working more fun for employees as well.
A way of working that I think is essential in e-commerce, especially if you want to differentiate yourself. You have to add (digital value) and to become customer centric. This means a responsive organisation. An organisation that learns fast, listens fast, acts fast and is creative! 

Someday maybe a year ago, I ran into this manifesto about responsive organisations. I really liked this way of thinking and working, so I decided also to buy a book about this subject. This became the book "Exponential Organisations". As you see below I really started to read, and the page shown is an important page that shows how new responsive organisations are the opposite of traditional organisations.

Reading the book "Exponential Organisations"
Important in the new way of working, is to share information, to react on information and to get a company connected. Nowadays cloud tooling is very helpful in this, for example Yammer. Adam Pisoni, one of the co-founders of Yammer explains in a very motivational way the cause of disruption in business.

The cause of disruption:

The people of the world have start to connect. The feedback loops between people have increased. But companies feedback loops have not increased.They assume new information will not be available so frequently so they keep on focusing on efficiency.
The cause of disruption happens when your customers have more rapid feedback loops then your company. Disruption happens when your customers learn faster than you.

A nice example is given from tower records. It looks like this traditional record selling company was disrupted very fast. But in reality, disruption does not happen so fast, as Pisoni says.
Companies have failed to saw the signals and to interpret them in the right way.
At the time when people started burning MP3's, the people in the stores, the local front line employees saw this trend coming.
They noticed people were buying cd's, burning them to MP3 and return them to the store.
The management of tower records responded with a new policy. "If you had opened the case you could not get your money back."
They did not think from a customers perspective. "how do our customers need change?". They failed to listen, to adapt and to experiment.

A few other interesting points from mr Pisoni's keynote speech:
  • Hierarchy is no longer working, Ignore the hierarchy, work across specialisations. 
  • Work in small groups, but have open communication so other people can benefit from the work that is done.
  • Empowering employees means: decrease cost of failure, increase rate of experimentation and help customer faster.
  • In the past we did not want employees to have any control or power. This makes it hard to learn information and to respond very quickly. Employees were powerless to do anything with the information they get (from customers).
  • What is needed is a new form of motivation for employees. Because work will become less routine and more self directed. Traditional motivation (carrot and stick) is actually now bad for the company. Motivation that is less about targets and KPI"s but more about intrinsic motivation.
Watch the complete keynote from Adam Pisoni here below in this video.

So I started to read more and more about this subject. As I do would like to work in such an organisation. And I really do see in traditional organisations that they say the voice of the customer is important, and they say they want to differentiate with service, but they simply do not know how to.

How do you build op a culture that is open, collaborative and transparent to increase business results?

Differentiate with culture and customer service.
To get better customer service you need a better culture.

At a Canadian telco company called Telus, they started with a 10 point programme to be change culture and the way of working.

1) An open model of how to connect and unite people. How to hire, promote and develop the employees.
2) Pervasive learning. Learning is not an event. Learning is equal parts formal, informal and social. so they also setup:
3) Habitat social. They have setup all the collaborative social tools you can think up. Everybody and all is connected. From Video sharing, micro blogging wiki's etc.
4) Give something back to society: give where we live
5) Bravo , an internal recognition programme. Where people could give e-cards or points for jobs well done. Points could be used to give to charity, to exchange for travel cheques etc.
6) Performance development changes. Management is more a mentor/coach and no hierarchical relationships.
7) Executive teaching: The CEO teaches four times a year to all employees 4 times a year.
8) CEO talks to the front line forums, so for example the unions
9) Workstyles: in 2008 20% of the organisaiton was mobile workers, now 70% of the organisation can work from everyhere in the world.
10) Customers first. How are we going to serve customers better?

Interested in more? Watch this video below with the Telus case as Dan Pontefract tells you more about his experiences and vision. Pontefract also wrote a book, that I most likely will buy also soon.

Sir Richard Branson, always in for some nice quotes or idea's also embraces the new way of working for his employees. For example by allowing unlimited holiday's.
For me this would also work, as I think one learns a lot from traveling in general but if you pay attention to it during your travel, also about cultures, habits, service, marketing and e-commerce.
And with a connected company, like mr Branson has, you can also work regularly from your holiday address, just as I do myself. It would give me extra motivation.
And if you combine this with the quote of mr Branson below, I think a winning combination!

Another book that I can certainly recommend is the book "the connected company" and the book 'the amazon way" that is all about customer centricity working in small groups and less hierarchy.

From "The Amazon Way"

I wrote a small review from this book earlier at this blog.

The creative economy, the customer centric economy, the new way (agile) way of working, the employee empowerement, working from around the globe, I like it all. Too bad there are not so many companies embracing the principles yet. I hope to be able to work for such a responsive, creative and customer centric organisation as well in the future!




  1. I appreciate your thinking it is a good idea to share useful knowledge like this it is quite helpful for the fresh blogger!
    Digital Marketing


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