Expresso shot – The customer moment

These Expresso shots are occasional, shorter posts about a topic that I think has value but does not require in-depth discussion. One of our five values at Aconex was to “put our clients first”. We believed that customer trust in the platform went hand-in-hand with trust in our people and that both were critical to long-term success. So, we continually sought to encourage customer focus and to maintain it as part of our culture.

As companies grow it can be hard to keep reinforcing core values and to prevent them becoming platitudes. This is especially true of customer-centricity when, as you grow and roles become specialised, some employees may have little direct day-to-day customer contact. When Aconex was small it was easy, but as we grew to nearly one thousand people, we found it necessary to systemise certain habits to keep our values front and centre.

One way that worked incredibly well was what we called the “customer moment”. Our COO, Paul Perrett, proposed that we introduce a customer moment at the start of every meeting, in much the same way that many of our clients opened meetings with safety moments. We were all familiar with the safety moment, as it was a widely followed practice in construction and engineering companies. We adapted the model to create the customer moment at Aconex.

Every internal meeting with more than a handful of people started with a shared customer story, helping us all to concentrate on how we could help customers and how central they were to what we did. The moment could come in different formats. For example:

  • A story of how a customer had benefited from using Aconex

  • An overview of customer usage of the platform

  • Sharing feedback that a customer had provided

  • How one of our teams had helped a customer solve a problem

  • The outline of a product extension that our customers would love, and why

This little habit turned out to be a fantastic way to maintain a customer-centric view at Aconex. It reinforced our shared value of “putting our clients first”, it helped define our culture and bring it to life, and it started hundreds of customer focused conversations throughout the company.

The takeaway Expresso: use a regular company-wide habit, like a customer moment, to engage your team and build your culture.

In previous Expresso shots I have written about Beer Tap Leadership and Time Management on Steroids.