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The Role of Human Resources in Creating a Customer-centric Culture

Through professional networking, past work experience, and happenstance, I’ve met many leaders who serve as their company’s top-ranking executive focused on customers. When asked about their priorities, creating a customer-centric culture is almost always at or near the top of the list.

I like to follow up with a simple question. “Do you have any formal authority over the way that your company hires, trains, manages and motivates its employees?” The answer is almost always no, with very few exceptions. Few even have a seat at the table when it comes to how the company manages talent.

This seems crazy to me. How can someone expect to influence the culture of their company having neither the influence nor access to impact the actual culture of the company?

It is my strong belief that any executive who is tasked with creating a customer-centric culture must have at least some level of formal authority over the way that the company manages talent.

At Volusion, we believe so strongly in this idea that we’ve actually structured the organization so that the head of Human Resources reports in to the office of the Chief Customer Officer. This has allowed us to move beyond lip service and actually put muscle behind the idea of building a customer centric culture. It has allowed us to establish “deliver WOW experiences” as one of our core values, and to apply that core value to the way we interview candidates, the way that we conduct performance reviews, the way we train employees, and the way we manage our teams.

While it may not be practical for every company to be structured in this way, that’s no excuse for the top customer executive not to have involvement and influence over the company’s HR practices. Otherwise, the goal of creating a customer-centric culture is unlikely to be achieved.