What Is a “Customer Centric” Culture?

Sep 27, 2013
Customer word puzzle

In our very first customer experience (CX) blog post about GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies’ (OCSIT) Customer Experience Program, we published our principles and values.

Our core principles say that all staff will:

  1. Take responsibility for providing an experience greater than customer expectations.

  1. Engage, listen and resolve.

  1. Design business from the outside in, not the inside out.

  1. Incorporate customer experience as a key success metric in everything we do.

  1. Make every contact with a customer an opportunity to influence their experience.


Our CX values are: outstanding quality, enjoyable customer engagement, employee engagement and customer-centric culture.

As we work to build our culture in OCSIT, we know that some people understand the core principles and others do not. Specifically, many people don’t really understand what it means when we say “we want to have a customer-centric culture” or “we should strive to design our business from the outside in, not the inside out.”

The key to be a customer-centric culture is to understand who your customers are and their expectations. Customers and the customer experience strategy should be at the center of your business.

  • Do you understand how do want to interact with you, what information they want, and how they want to receive it?
  • Do you know if customers receive a consistent, positive experience across all channels?
  • Do you measure customer satisfaction of your product, service or program? If so, what do you do with that information?
  • Do you build that back into improvements in your products, services and/or programs?

These are all important questions as we build a customer-centric culture. These issues are critical when making business decisions. We must also acknowledge that while these principles are important, not all decisions can/will be made to satisfy our customer all the time. Particularly in the government with budget constraints, we can’t always provide the type of experience, or make every process or technology change that could result in more satisfied customers. Managing customer expectations and communicating clearly helps eliminate frustration on their part.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes when making business decisions. Think about the “outside” customer perspective vs. traditional thinking of “how the government does it” or “what you think is the ideal.”

That is taking the “outside in” look at your programs, products and services. Know your customer. Take them into account from the beginning of your strategic planning:

  • Define what an excellent customer experience means (based on their input and voice).
  • Assess the impact of the customer experience and their satisfaction with the products and/or services you provide.
  • What have you learned? What have you done to make changes based on what you have learned?

These steps will go a long way in achieving a customer-centric culture.