How to Bring a Customer Focus Competency to Life

Delivering a reliable and then innovative customer experience requires adding a customer focus competency to the core competencies of your business (as important as products, finance, marketing or sales). The customer-focused experience needs to be built and honed as a skill.

This means:

  • Establishing a discipline for how cross-functional teams explore and understand emerging issues and opportunities.
  • Defining a clear processes for evaluating and understanding what customers need and value in improved or redesigned experiences.
  • Defining and designing a shared process and metrics to deliver one-company priority experiences.
  • Identifying the few key priority metrics elevated to the C-Suite for regular review.

Most organizations have put rigor into how they develop a product. But there’s not the same rigor around how to bring a customer experience to life. The ability to problem solve or innovate from the needs of a customer’s life is not an inherent skill in most organizations.

The key to embedding experience reliability (competency four) into your organization will be customer experience development.

Establish a Customer Experience Development Process

We find that someone trained in experience design and human centered design is especially valuable along with facilitators and change management folks who work to make every team successful. The arc of their work starts in a united C-Suite review of the customer experience where a project is identified as well as the team to work on it. Then they work through a three to six month cycle of investigating, developing, proposing and implementing. Through this cycle team members begin to learn the skills themselves which they take back to their functional areas.

MetLife Drives a Customer Focus Competency Group

Claire Burns is Chief Customer Officer at MetLife. She drives the customer centricity strategy and actions to build customer empathy and improve the experience of purchasing, maintaining and enhancing customer coverage with MetLife. MetLife, Inc., is a global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs.

We have a small customer experience practice group in my team. They are supplied as resources to assist operations teams in solving customer experience issues. The skills that they possess are an in-depth understanding of customer experience, user experience design skills, a breadth of skills to be able to influence, encourage collaboration and drive to an outcome with teams as a resource vs. authority.

This team provides rigor and a regular cycle for how we support operating areas in working together to tackle issues. They facilitate mapping of the current state and future state and competitor state. They do a very simple, clunky map of the current experience (no Visio blindness level work!). They bring in customer understanding and research and identify gaps between current and future state, ultimately enabling these operational work teams to prepare their blueprint of the ideal future state. Then they get operational, mapping against current capabilities, identifying investment scenarios. Once the work moves forward, our team continues with them in implementation, ensuring core metrics of the experience are embedded from an outside in perspective.

These efforts typically start as pilots, in a four to six month cycle. This has proven to be a solid way to begin to embed this work as a competency and to create a regular rigorous process for achieving customer driven experiences that contribute to growth. It is a journey that requires us to constantly show value and add value.


Experience reliability that’s supported by operational metrics creates your “Revenue Erosion Early Warning System.” Leaders need to care about how the company is performing in the processes that impact moments in your customer’s journey with you. These moments are the intersection points which impact a customer’s decision to stay, leave, buy more and recommend you to others.

  • Establish the discipline to know before customers tell you – if your operation is reliable or unreliable in experience delivery in the moments that matter most.
  • Create and implement a deliberate CX development process for customer experience improvements that rivals the clarity and process that most companies have for product development.
  • Drive executive appetite for wanting to know about the interruptions in customers’ lives, simplifying how they are delivered, and facilitating a one-company response to these key operational performance areas.

Read More:
Use Performance Metrics to Improve Customer Asset Growth
Strengthen the Reliability of Key Customer Touchpoints

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