The Customer-Focused Organization

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 25, 2020

How alignment, advocacy, data, and technology drive high-performance


It’s a different world. Not just today, but every day, thanks to the manic pace of change in the volatile business environment, technologies capable of making (or breaking) corporate reputations in real-time, and customers who are more informed, educated, and demanding than any past generation could have imagined.

Those customers are the lifeblood of organizations; companies that fail to focus their cultures, strategies, and especially, their workforces on pleasing those customers are simply courting failure. High-performance organizations (HPOs)—defined by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) on the basis of revenue growth, profitability, market share, and customer satisfaction over time—understand that customer focus is a complex blend of elements: attraction, engagement, satisfaction, collaboration, retention, and more.

When research by i4cp and the American Management Association (AMA) examined customer focus through the lens of high-performance, findings showed that the majority of those top organizations strive to keep promises to customers, take every opportunity to know their customers well, and affirm that their companies exist largely to serve those customers. In fact, three-quarters of business leaders from high performance organizations declared their companies to be more customer focused than their competitors.

Further, four key findings demonstrated that high-performance organizations apply distinctive approaches enabling them to leverage excellence in customer focus as a core driver of competitive advantage:

Four key findings

  1. Customer alignment starts high and runs deep. The behaviors of executives support customer focus in high performance organizations, and the practice is drilled down to include the behaviors of middle managers, too.
  2. Customer satisfaction is good, but customer advocacy is better. Satisfaction is the global standard for measuring customer focus, but high-performers recognize that active, engaged customers are the gold standard.
  3. Customer focus is data driven. In the age of big data and evidence-based business activity, high performance organizations use customer insights to shape products, services, and strategy.
  4. Technologies enable customer connections. From CRM software to social media, high-performers leverage high tech to achieve high touch with customers worldwide.

About The Author(s)

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.