Episode #54: Getting Real About Customer-Centricity

Guest: Annette Franz

Lots of organizations talk about being customer centric; this week's guest actually makes customer centricity happen. Join the conversation as host Shawn Nason gets real with internationally recognized thought leader, keynote speaker, and author Annette Franz about focusing on the humans in Experience Ecosystems by putting customers in the center of the organization's discussions, decisions, and designs.

About Shawn Nason

shawn@mofi.co | ShawnNason.com | @manonfiresocial

Shawn Nason, founder and CEO of MOFI, best-selling author, and former Walt Disney Imagineer, lives his life with a commitment to create radical relationships with everyone he meets. Armed with the gift of discernment, he has the uncanny ability to walk alongside people and organizations as they struggle to connect with their deepest passions and engage their most debilitating demons. He challenges the world around him to be fully present, get real, and lead with empathy.

Prior to launching MOFI, Shawn was the chief experience & transformation officer for Healthways and served as the chief innovation officer for Xavier University. He also spent six years at The Walt Disney Company in various capacities within Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Cruise Line. He’s an in-demand speaker and coach, the author of two books, Kiss Your Dragons: Radical Relationships, Bold Heartsets, & Changing the World (2021) and The Power of YES! in Innovation (2017), and the host of The Combustion Chronicles podcast.

About annette franz

Founder & CEO, CX Journey

Internationally Recognized Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author, and Official Member of the Forbes Coaches Council

Named One of "The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter" by Business Insider

About mofi

A human-obsessed, boutique design firm ready to rethink your entire Experience Ecosystem™

hello@mofi.co | mofi.co | @mofisocial

Organizations who can’t grow get left behind. And, getting left behind isn’t good for anyone. But growth is hard. Why? Because it involves humans and humans tend to complicate things. That’s where we come in.

Consider MOFI your full-court-press game plan for growth. We engage, humanize, and redesign your interactions with the people and processes that make up your Experience Ecosystem.


Customer & Employee Experience—Increase your revenue and market share by aligning, equipping, and empowering the people in your Experience Ecosystem to create game-changing experiences.

Consumer-Centered Innovation—Move at the speed of your customers by harnessing the mindsets and processes of human-centered design to dream up, test, and launch fresh ideas into your business model.

Organizational Transformation—Position your organization for long-term sustainability by shifting the mindsets and heartsets of the people who represent your brand in the world.

Episode Takeaways

  • Focusing on the customer is critical to business success. Leaders need to put the customer in customer experience so that it's not just lip service.
  • Annette's three approaches for putting the customer back in the customer experience are listen, characterize, and empathize. Listening is all about feedback that you get from your customers, characterize is all about developing personas, and empathize is all about journey mapping and walking in your customers' shoes.
  • Inside-out businesses focus on the processes, systems, tools, and products instead of the people.
  • Customer-centric leaders don't go to ROI as the first thing they're looking for.
  • Focusing on the customer is a foundational thing that is enterprise-wide. It's not just in one department or one line of business or another.
  • The spillover effect is when the feelings of one person affects those around them, especially the customer. When organizations take care of their employees and provide them with the processes and training needed to do their jobs well, they're setting up their workforce for creating positive customer experiences.
  • The job of leaders is to remove barriers and obstacles from the front-of-the-house team.
  • By definition, a customer-centric organization is collaborative. That's the only way that you can be customer-centric.
  • Consumers are willing to make a data/privacy trade-off if it means that things are going to be easier for them.

[Overheard on the Podcast]

"I always say you gotta do the work, you gotta talk to customers if you want to really know who they are, what their pain points are, what jobs they're trying to do, you've gotta take the time to do that research, to talk to them, to develop these personas. And then use that as your starting point for designing the experience."
"There's the saying out there, finding customers for your products versus finding products for your customers. And a lot of brands are doing the former versus and the latter.... They haven't taken the time to... bring the customer voice into what they're doing.... They make the decision based on what they think is best for the business not for the customers or they think they know what's best for customers. And the key here is think that they know what's best for customers. And that's really inside-out thinking."
"[Customer-centric organizations are] always asking, 'Well, what does this mean for the customer? What would she say if she was here?” And I think a lot of folks when they talk about... customer-centricity, they talk about more like tactics or this person is being customer-centric, and I'm like, customer-centric is really systemic, right? It's not just a tactic or a thing or a marketing message, it's everything you do, right?"

[Overheard on the Podcast]

"If we take care of their customers and their needs, and their jobs to be done, the business is going to thrive, right, you know, focus on the experience, focus on the people, and the numbers will come."
"If you don't focus on keeping the customers you have and keeping the employees you have, you're going to just constantly be swimming upstream trying to fill that leaky bucket."
"If you focus on the people and their experience, the numbers will come."
"I think it's so important that we just put the human into everything that we're doing."

[Overheard on the Podcast]

"[Customer-centricity] has to be across the board, across the C-suite, across the entire organization because... customer-centricity is a foundational thing, right? It's organization-wide and it's not just in one department or one line of business or another. You know, if it is, customers are going to feel it. And to your point, they're going to call bullshit on it."
"By definition, a customer-centric organization is collaborative. I mean, it has to be. That's the only way that you can be customer-centric."

Annette's book

Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business)

Ultimately, you need to bring the customer voice into all meetings, decisions, processes, and designs. The customer must be at the center of all you do. After all, it’s all about the customer!

In this book, Annette covers the three approaches to customer understanding: surveys and data, personas, and journey mapping.

She could’ve written the whole book about journey mapping, but there’s so much more to building a customer-centric business than journey mapping. The culture must first be deliberately designed to put the customer at the heart of the business. And all foundational elements of a CX transformation must be in place to make that happen.

With that knowledge, read this book and:

  • Learn the three approaches you must use to understand your customers, why you must use them, and how they work together.
  • Create an action plan to ensure insights gleaned from these three approaches are implemented in your organization.
  • Develop and assign personas to your customers in order to better understand their needs, goals, problems to solve, and jobs to be done.
  • Learn the difference between touchpoint maps and journey maps and how touchpoint maps can still be a valuable asset in your customer experience toolbox.
  • Understand why journey mapping is called the backbone of customer experience management – and how to make it so in your organization.
  • Set up and facilitate your own current-state and future-state journey mapping workshops with customers.
  • Facilitate service blueprint workshops with internal stakeholders.
  • And more!

Selected Videos


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