3 ways to create a culture that fights the customers’ corner

Brandon Chung
5min read

Customer-centricity is a phrase that has been used and abused over the last decade. But what does it mean in practice and how can Jobs to be Done make it happen?

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous Peter Drucker quote that succinctly summarises why companies succeed. This is a motto that has been proven true over the decades, and executives in financial services now are increasingly focused to create a “customer centric” culture.

While Drucker gave executives the 'why' to culture, it left them to devise the 'how'. Executives intuitively understand that creating products that customers love is good for business, but how should they practically create a culture that promotes this to happen?

To answer this question, we created a Jobs to be Done Insights Show where 11:FS’ Principal Customer and Product Lead, Ryan Garner discussed the topic with Peter Collinridge (Global Head of Entrepreneurs, Citi Ventures), Justin Geaney (Chief Product Officer, Virtual Bank by Standard Chartered), Alan Klement (Author of “When coffee and kale compete”), and David M. Brear (Global CEO, 11:FS).

The show will be released shortly, but we wanted to give you the highlights in advance. So how do you create a culture that puts the customer first? Here are three tips that emerged from the discussion.

1. Empower people who know your customers best and give them a voice

Ask your executives “when was the last time you spoke with a customer, and what did they say?” Many will say they haven’t, and that’s okay.

The point is not to berate or humiliate them, but to help them realise that they are many degrees away from the end customer, and that there are others in the organisation who can help them close that gap and create services that help customers meaningfully improve their lives.

“There’s an amazing amount of pockets within big organisations that truly understands what their customers are, and they’re usually people who are well and truly on the front line - these are people in the call centre, in the branches, who day in day out deal with the realities of what customers have problem with and are actually trying to do.

It just happens that probably most of the people who make decisions around digital banking investments have probably never talked to a consumer. The leap of faith - the billion they decide to invest - is usually based on a sample size of one; them,” explains David M. Brear.

Executives who are humble, empathetic, and understands that continuously delighting customers is the best way to increase the long term value of the company, he/she will see the value of empowering these teams.

Because of the work that we did with 11:FS in the beginning, we’ve really stuck true to the Jobs to be Done framework.

Justin Geaney, Chief Product Officer, Virtual Bank by Standard Chartered

2. Make customer empathy the responsibility of everyone across the organisation

Fighting the customer’s corner should not only be one team’s responsibility.

It is not enough to create a customer research unit where customer insight is delivered in and disconnected from the product development cycle. Customers should not be reduced to an input variable to a product, but should be viewed as the foundation of the business. Justin Geaney expresses it this way:

“Because of the work that we did with 11:FS in the beginning, we’ve really stuck true to the Jobs to be Done framework. Every single person who joins the team gets taken through the initial research, and the permutation of the research that we’ve gone through over the past year.

We do our customer testing with the whole squad involved - people from tech, finance, risk, operations, and product. By having people across the team sit through these sessions, it means that customer understanding moves across the team. It is not a “product function” to teach the organisation what is jobs to be done and what customers want, it’s everyone joining in on the research approach and everyone seeing the output and everyone having a voice in terms of challenging it. Culturally, that makes it a lot easier for us to do what we are trying to do.”

I think most organisations know how to hire. The problem is more of the mindset

Peter Collinridge, Global Head of Entrepreneurs, Citi Ventures

3. Hire talented people and give them the freedom to do things differently

Legacy ways of working can often be at odds with building a customer centric culture. Large organisations have an incredible ability to hire extremely talented people, but the legacy process often curb their ability to drive change.

“I think most organisations know how to hire. The problem is more of the mindset,” summarises Peter Collinridge. “If you’ve got engineers and product people who are used to executing a roadmap and a stream of tickets, that is very different to saying 'you’ve got to triple this metric in the next week', so it’s the mindset which I think is the most challenging thing.”

Executives who can appreciate this difference and are willing to invest in a new way of working are the one who will succeed. They will accelerate the company towards a customer centric culture, and build a loyal team of change makers who can unleash their talent, feel fulfilled, and attract other top talent to join the organisation.

To listen to the full Insights show as soon as it’s released, subscribe to Fintech Insider, the number one podcast for financial services movers, shakers and curious minds.

For more information on how Jobs To Be Done can be used to create a successful new venture, head over to this blog by Ryan Garner on designing something customers will love.

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