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Applying the Customer Mindset to Your Team
Episode 419th May 2022 • Faithful on the Clock • Wanda Thibodeaux
00:00:00 00:13:08

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Faithful on the Clock is a podcast with the mission of getting your work and faith aligned. We want you to understand Who you're serving and why so you can get more joy and legacy from every minute spent on the clock. Thanks for joining us and taking this step toward a more fulfilling job and relationship with God!

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In this episode...

Applying the Customer Mindset to Your Team

Almost all companies these days stress focusing on the customer–that is, they’re customer-centric. But employees don’t get the same attention. This episode of the Faithful on the Clock podcast talks about that gap and provides some recommendations to close it.


[00:05] - Intro

[00:37] - The customer-centric mindset is front and center for today’s companies, who are using the next-best triad to understand and serve their bases well.

[01:57] - Companies are bending over backward to understand customers.

[02:29] - Companies are not applying the same attention to employees that they are to customers. There is often a huge disconnect between employer and employee perceptions as a result.

[03:46] - We need to get companies to start treating their employees under the same mindset they treat their customers. Tackling organizational structure is the first step in doing this.

[04:42] - Changing organizational structure has challenges and takes time, but anything you can do to reduce silos and allow people to move freely will help. Repeated interactions are essential.

[05:45] - Extreme ownership can help your team come together.

[07:57] - We handle customer personas well, but we don’t apply the same detail level to employees. That makes it easier to disconnect from workers.

[08:33] - Once you have organizational hurdles out of the way, apply extreme leadership to direct your customer tools toward your employees.

[09:40] - Issues like improving employee connection and treatment can seem too big to tease apart. But nothing is impossible with God. Start with something small you CAN do, rather than giving up.

[10:58] - Prayer

[11:40] - Outro/What’s coming up next

Key takeaways:

  • Employers are incredibly focused on the “next-best” triad, with the goal of achieving next-best experience. They are overwhelmingly customer-centric and use all kinds of tools to try to understand and connect with buyers.
  • Many companies have clear gaps between higher-ups and employees. These gaps in perception are present in many different topic areas, including the return to work through the pandemic recovery.
  • Companies have to make an effort to pay as much attention to their workers as they do to their customers. 
  • Organizational structure is a significant problem that prevents companies from connecting with their workers. Anything you can do to break silos and bring people together will help.
  • Extreme ownership can combat the idea that individual workers don’t count. 
  • Customer personas focus on details. Psychologically, they make it easier to think hard about customers. We do not do the same for employees.
  • Once you have straightened out organizational structure problems and have some extreme ownership happening, start applying your customer tools to your employees as related to next-best product, offer, action, and experience.
  • An issue like helping employees feel connected can seem too big to tackle. But you can tackle anything one small step at a time.


  • Analyze your company for gaps in employer-employee perception. 
  • Identify a small step you can take to help people value each employee. Do that small step.

What’s coming up next:

Everybody feels blue sometimes. But what do you do when you feel sad at work and it interferes with your job? That’s in episode 42 of Faithful on the Clock.

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Good morning everybody, and welcome to the Faithful on the Clock podcast, the show where I try, every week, to get your work and faith a little more aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and this episode is highlighting the customer mindset. But we’re not gonna focus on customers. Nope. We’re transplanting that mindset to your own team. It’s gonna shake up how you think of your organizational relationships, so let’s get moving.


All right, everybody. Raise your hand if you’ve heard that companies today should have a customer-centric mindset. Y’all should be raisin’ your hands out there, because the idea has exploded all over everything in the business space. And one application of this is what we call the next-best triad, where you do next best offer, next best product, and next best action. And each of those is slightly different, and next best action is the most evolved out of the three, but they all center around this idea of looking at what the customer wants or needs, rather than starting with what you as a business want. So it’s shifted operations from, you know, inside the organization, to being more controlled from the outside. Make sense? And what companies are trying to do around this idea really is to move even further forward, take all the AI tools and everything we’ve got, and just kind of integrate all three next best approaches to provide next best experience. Because the bottom line is, if you can provide next best experience, you’ve got a pretty good shot at keeping a customer for the long haul. Companies really are looking at this in terms of lifetime value, OK?


So, in that context, companies are bending over backward to understand customers. They are doing everything they know how to do to get feedback and really figure out what is going on with people. And you know, some of this stuff, it’s pretty mindblowing. Companies now, I can be walking down the street, and if I’ve opted in to let them track my location on my phone, boom, they can just send me a coupon as I walk toward their store on the street, right? And that coupon is even personalized! So it’s crazy.


Now, keep all that in your head for a second. And I’ll preface this a little by saying I think there are some definite exceptions to this trend, companies who really do get it right. But generally speaking, when you look at the data, businesses really are not treating their employees with the same love they’re giving to customers. In a lot of areas, there’s a massive gap behind what the employees want or think, and what the management or higher-ups actually think or want. They’re just totally disconnected. And actually, the whole COVID-19 return to work, that’s a really good example. A study, I think it was from McKinsey, they found that three-quarters of C-suite executives expected typical core workers to be back on site three or more days a week.

But three-quarters of the 5,000 employees surveyed said they’d like to work from home for two or more days a week. More than half wanted to be home at least three days out of the week. And this kind of stuff, it’s through everything. Diversity efforts, pay, you name it. And that’s one of the reasons you see things happening like the calls for unions and whatnot, because we’ve got employees and employers in two different places a lot of the time.


So to just pull these things together, we’ve got to get companies to think as much about their workers as they do their customers. We’ve got to get them applying everything they use to connect with customers to connect with their employees. So how can we actually do that? I think the first hurdle is organizational structure, where the traditional hierarchy of things, all the red tape and whatnot, where it just gets in the way. I mean, an employee has a complaint, they’ve got a whole bunch of forms or other stuff at HR to do. You just don’t have this problem with customers. You know, a customer wants to complain, it’s gonna be out on social media to thousands or even millions of people in minutes. And I think that real-time visibility that the customers have compared to employees, that higher risk of social accountability, I think that plays into things a lot.


And I understand, you’re not just gonna wake up tomorrow and totally deconstruct your office. Reorganizing takes time and there are real risks to that to manage. And I get that there’s just no logistical way to see everybody when your business scales to thousands of employees. I’m realistic. But anything you can do to arrange your business where there are fewer silos, where people have the chance to move freely toward each other, that’s gonna help. Because you can talk about connecting until you’re blue in the face, but if your organization is set up so that you never have the chance to go onto the floor, or if you have no way to talk to anybody who’s up a couple levels, then disconnect is literally going to be built into the business. And people are not going to trust or care based on one meet and greet, I promise you that. So the structure has to allow for repeated, frequent interactions between everybody in the company, not just one-offs. That’s really important.


The other thing is, as you’re rethinking the structure of your business, or as you’re trying to get your leaders to, you know, see you as a human being, try really hard to get across the idea of extreme ownership in what you do. And extreme ownership, that idea comes from the book, Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. And the book took a lot from the Navy Seals. But it’s this idea that you don’t just take responsibility for yourself. You look out for the people next to you, too. And everybody holds everybody else accountable. Because when you do that, you can’t just say, “Well, they don’t count.” It kind of breaks that tendency to look at an employee stat and just see it as faceless. You know that everybody connects and that your success depends on their success and vice versa. And that extreme ownership, you can apply it to just about everything from making sure somebody gets to the company picnic to reviewing a million-dollar grant proposal. And it gives you the chance to ask those questions one-on-one, set goals together. I think makes a real difference. And just to give you a few verses for that, you first can go ahead and remember Proverbs 27:17, which says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And another great set of verses to keep track of related to accountability and standing together is Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Those verses read, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” And lastly, another short one is Galatians 6:2, which says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”


And one point I want to just touch on really fast here is this idea of the customer persona. You know, I think psychologically, details matter. And I think companies are taught to look at these personas and know everything about them, to really dig in and see them in a complete way. But we don’t really do that for workers. We don’t ask each other, hey, do you know this or that about that person next to you. We’re not on a detail level with workers. So it’s easier I think to forget each other.


Now, once you’ve got some of this organizational stuff out of the way, you know, you can breathe a little that way, people are starting to gel and feel comfortable with each other, just take that idea of extreme ownership and get everybody to redirect the customer tools to the employees. What’s the next best offer or product or action that makes sense not just for the team, but for every single individual you supervise? Maybe that’s training. Maybe it’s saying, “Hey, you’ve worked your you-know-what-off, go ahead and take the rest of the afternoon for yourself and go recover.” But really ask yourself, are you playing the long game? Are you looking at that lifetime value of that worker and trying to give them the best experience that’s gonna make them stick around? As long as employees know why you’re doing your monitoring or surveys or what-have-you, and as long as they’ve got a clear choice about it and there’s really clear democratization of that data, you should be able to make some real changes with relatively little friction.


The final thing I’ll say is, you know, I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like this, but I think some of the issue is that, whether it’s something like this or another social issue, we just feel like it’s too big. We might have the data but we don’t do anything because we don’t know how to tease everything apart. But we have to remember, as we see in Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible with God.” So any problem, I don’t care what it is, you can tackle anything if you take it one step at a time and you trust that God is behind you. So OK, maybe you can’t totally redo your organizational chart overnight. But what’s a step toward that? Could you maybe set up an inter-department meeting once a month? Maybe you as employees can ask your supervisor to hold some office hours each week, just be clear about how that would help you to be more productive and feel better. So no matter your level, don’t give in to this bias that tells you there’s nothing you can do. Focus on the thing you proactively can do, even if it’s small. Because each time you have a success, you’ll feel more confident to tackle the next level of change.


So let me pray for you to close out the show.

God, we have all kinds of tools to help us connect. But we’ve still got a problem in that we’re not applying those tools for everybody. We’re not breaking down the traditional structures that keep employees faceless. So Lord just turn the focus. I pray that every leader out there would recognize that the value of the business is the value of the employee, and that you would help every worker lift their voices without fear to teach leaders what the next steps should be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


That’s the pickle on the cheeseburger, listeners. Next week, the show is going to talk about what to do when you feel blue at work. We’ll cover some of the reasons you might get down in the dumps and make sure you know how to get the right help. I would love for you to go ahead, visit the show site at, and sign up for our email list. You’ll not only get regular updates, but I’ll email you links to the show each week, too. Take care of that, thank you bunches for listening, and until next time, be blessed.