My Rock, My Story: How Irvine Company Uses a Customer Room for Employee Engagement and Accountability

My Rock, My Story: How Irvine Company Uses a Customer Room for Employee Engagement and Accountability

In my most recent podcast episode, I interviewed Daniel Coullet and Elizabeth Curtin, CX leaders of the SaaS company, PTC, about the customer room they designed to enhance both employee and customer experience within their organization. It was a great discussion where they laid out the details of why they established the room, it’s value, and how it’s used. If you check out the post, you can see a breakdown of how they did it.

Customer rooms allow employees to get a better understanding of who the customer is and what their journey is like. Having an in-house customer room can help get you out of the fray of the silo-by-silo projects and report-outs, and they unite leaders for regular and customer experience accountability. It’s a dedicated space where CX leaders chart out their customer journey with maps and illustrations to visually organize and tell the customer’s story.

Leaders tend to convene monthly and/or quarterly, and prior to annual planning; the customer room unites them in a way that allows them to focus and also recognize emerging trends. And why does the customer room work? Because rather than the CCO dissecting information, making decisions, and presenting to leaders to sell them priorities to work on, leaders make the decisions as a team. In the customer room, the outcomes of the competencies are presented by the stage of experience. Content is constantly refreshed with multiple sources of customer listening, trending of information, videos, and examples of experiences. This moves “customer-centric” activities from the once-per-year energy expended when the survey results come out, to recurring focus by a united leadership team to improving customers’ lives and driving growth.

The customer room unites leaders to understand customers' lives, their journey with your company, and emerging issues that require focus. #CX #CustExp Click To Tweet

Building Our Customer Room

The following excerpt is from my third book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0, How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine.  Below, I share a “My Rock, My Story” snippet – which is one of many featured throughout the book. These stories come from CCOs who have faced numerous challenges, yet persevered in pushing their metaphorical “rock up the hill” by uniting their leadership teams, working through challenges, and ultimately achieving success in doing so.

My Rock, My Story: How Irvine Company Uses a Customer Room for Employee Engagement and Accountability

Irvine Company Image from Instagram @workatirvinecompany

Mike Bennett is Senior Vice President of Operations for the Irvine Company office properties, where he leads a customer-driven transformational effort with the leadership team, and shares how and why their organization built a customer room. Irvine Company Office Properties manages a portfolio of 500 office and industrial properties throughout California.

We built our customer room for a combination of reasons. It plays a role as war room where we work as a team to focus on our customer experience challenges and present ideas to leadership for improvement, and it plays a key role in how we onboard new employees and exemplify our culture around the customer. It is also a place where we recognize achievement for individuals, teams, and our overall key customer loyalty metrics.

In our customer room, we have posted each stage of the customer experience on the walls so we can identify issues and opportunities. Here we tack up comments, letters, and screenshots of web pages that we are improving. Across each stage we highlight priorities we are working on to improve touch point processes and experiences. Teams work in this room cross-functionally on a regular basis as we identify priorities. Although the focus is on internal processes, customers, consultants, and service partners who visit can see the improvement efforts that we are currently focusing on.

We are also using our customer room as a cultural space to onboard new employees. When we talked with customers and coworkers as we built out our customer journey and priorities, we learned that our onboarding of employees and customers was widely varied. We wanted to have a more robust initial experience so we came up with a very interactive experience for our new employees. On day one this includes a bus tour of our asset properties with interaction from different leaders at each property. The day ends at our headquarters in our customer room where one or more selected leaders meet face-to-face and learn cultural and company information about our efforts to put employees and customers at the center of our business.

Another important dimension of our customer room is its use for recognition. A big screen is in the middle of the room, facing visitors when they enter. Here we post quotes, key statistics, and metrics illustrating how we are improving our customers’ experiences and meeting our key financial results. Teams are also recognized within this space to celebrate hard work being done throughout the company. It’s a celebration space and a concept we are talking about duplicating in our field offices.

This room is having an impact because:

  • It’s indoctrinating our new employees to our customer-centric culture during orientation
  • It’s enhancing creativity within our teams, encouraging them to work together to impact customer growth, and
  • Other Irvine Company divisions are seeking out assistance to help them set up their own rooms

Building a customer room to drive monthly, quarterly, and annual accountability is one of the secret weapons used to align leaders and drive united prioritization and action.

Building a customer room to drive monthly, quarterly, and annual accountability is one of the secret weapons used to align leaders and drive united prioritization and action. #CX #CustExp Click To Tweet

Are you thinking of building a customer room for your own company? A lot of work goes into organizing a customer room, so I encourage you to download the Customer Room Manifesto below for advice and tips on how to get started and execute your plan.

  • Establish empathy for customers' lives
  • Connect experience performance to business growth
  • Unite leaders to focus on priorities and eliminate silo thinking

My gift to you:

The Customer Room Manifesto


Download this 17 page manifesto, and learn how building a customer room unites a leadership team to focus and improve customers’ lives to earn the right to growth.

The customer room is a tangible depiction of your customers’ journey with you. It is where you bring leaders together regularly, to tell the story of your customers’ lives.

The power of the customer room is the visual storytelling, because it is set up as an experience—a way for your leaders and organization to step through customers’ lives.​

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