top of page

Who Thinks You’re Customer-Centric? You? Or Your Customers?

Many so-called customer-centric companies have a glaring blind spot: the customer. Rather than being fanatic about engaging new customers, companies focus on customer transactions and internal metrics at the cost of emphasizing customer journeys. The result is a delivery gap that must be addressed. It’s time to turn the spotlight on the customer and start delivering value.

The Delivery Gap

While most companies assume they consistently give customers what they want, Bain & Company finds they usually are kidding themselves. “When we surveyed 362 firms, we found that 80% believed they delivered a ‘superior experience’ to their customers. But when we then asked customers about their own perceptions, we heard a very different story. They said that only 8% of companies were really delivering.”

Why does this “delivery gap” exist at so many companies? It’s not because they fail to recognize the importance of their customers. More than 95% of management teams Bain & Company surveyed claim to be customer-focused. It’s because the spotlight is turned internally. Customer Success teams fixate on churn analysis and customer health scores. They agonize over how many accounts to assign to each Customer Success Manager, and how to design compensation for customer-facing teams. While these are all important, too much energy is focused inward—at the cost of ignoring customers.

The Internal Spotlight

Customer Success has gained great momentum over the last five to 10 years. Most companies, big and small, established, and startups, have Customer Success teams now. But too often, customer-facing teams operate in silos. Teams including Professional Services, Support, Customer Education, Onboarding, and Implementation, which have been around long before Customer Success existed and are traditionally measured by internal-facing metrics. They track utilization rates and bench time for consultants, and time to go live for onboarding specialists. Support Agents measure the length of ticket queues and time to resolution, while Customer Education teams announce course completion rates and class “smiley sheets” scores. While these metrics are important, they are more concerned with how well teams are run and are less concerned with how customers are doing. Shining the spotlight on internal teams naturally leaves your customers in the shadows.

From Touchpoints to Journeys

Global management consulting firm McKinsey shares that companies often focus on customer satisfaction at the transactional level. They track Net Promoter Scores for individual touchpoints like support calls and training classes and send surveys out after every purchase. And even though customers might love each high-quality experience, overall satisfaction suffers when these impressions aren’t aligned in a larger customer journey.

In the article “From Touchpoints to Journeys, Seeing the World as Customers Do,” McKinsey shares findings that journeys correlate significantly more with overall outcomes than do touchpoints. This means it’s your responsibility to provide customers with a coordinated and proactive approach with best practices that drive specific outcomes. Seamless customer journeys are so critical for your business because the rewards include higher customer and employee satisfaction, increased revenue, cost improvements, and an enduring competitive advantage.

Turn the Spotlight on Your Customers

It’s time to turn the spotlight on your customers. Customers are the core to your financial stability and your higher profits. Their success drives your success. The first step to moving from the internal focus and towards shining the light on your customers is to break down internal silos. Start by bringing customer-facing teams together to define, design, and deploy the most important part of the customer journey: onboarding. Deliver a prescriptive and cross-functional journey that delivers value to your customers quickly and seamlessly. Then, align internal teams on the metrics that drive customers to value.

  • Start with customer onboarding. The reality is that 100 percent of your customers need to be onboarded for you to be successful. Onboarding is the period when many teams interact with customers, so leverage the onboarding period to immediately deliver a compelling experience for new customers. Since customer onboarding is everything, it’s important you get it right.

  • Value: Customers hire your product to be better at their jobs. Most likely they want to make money or save money. They want to save time or be compliant. Rather than direct all the attention on going live with your product, ensure users know how to obtain value quickly. Help them transform their business rather than just use your product.

  • Metrics: Consider aligning customer-facing teams on customer-centric metrics that demonstrate how effectively they deliver customer value. I recommend you include leading, or predictive, metrics like product usage, adoption, customer health scores, and customer satisfaction scores to get teams working together for the customer.

When Customers Win You Win

When you align customer-facing teams, break down silos, and shine the spotlight on your customers, everyone benefits. Start by breaking down silos. Create a seamless customer onboarding framework that customer-facing teams can get behind. Make it a priority to deliver value to customers at every stage of their journey with you, and align internal teams on a few key metrics that demonstrate customer success. Because when customers win, you win.

DONNA WEBER is the world’s leading expert in customer onboarding. For more than two decades, she has helped high-growth startups and established enterprises create customers for life. Her award-winning book is Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions. Learn more at



bottom of page