IUM | Survey « Purpose: The Critical Importance of Tying It to the Customer »

29 Oct 2020
29 Oct 2020

Phil Klaus, teacher-researcher at IUM, expert in Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy, cited in latest Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey.

« The shift from shareholder to stakeholder capitalism has gained significant steam over the past two years. So much so, that corporations are joining the movement to view customers as primary stakeholders and create experiences embracing this reality. Consequently, investments in customer experience (CX) programs have reached record levels, despite a lack of clear understanding around how effectively these investments deliver on business outcomes. In late 2019, we embarked on a series of executive interviews* to determine the nature of their organizational CX investments, as well as internal factors that impact implementation and results of experience strategy.

Surfacing from that research were five focus areas of investment (business model transformation, human capital, employee culture, digital innovation, and data and analytics) and the organizational challenges faced in realizing returns on these investments. Just as importantly, one of eight identified accelerators of CX outcomes was a connection to purpose. This may come as a surprise. Rarely does the core of organizational identity and culture come into the conversation within the measurement-driven realm of CX.
However, our work with organizations of all sizes and industries has shown time and again that purpose is the engine enabling organizations to better deliver on customer, and ultimately business, outcomes.

To more deeply understand if and how organizations embed purpose within their operations to achieve customer-centered growth, we engaged with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, and can now demonstrate that “customer-committed companies” have a different formula for growth.

Indeed, executives seek to improve every aspect of their organizational performance, including top-line and bottom-line metrics, customer metrics, and employee engagement. But it’s truly infusing a customercentered purpose into the veins of an organization that helps fuel an ecosystem for growth.

How does this take shape? A customer-centered purpose sets the vision for how an organization serves its customers, providing a powerful rallying cry when articulated clearly and consistently from leadership. But that’s not enough. It can only infiltrate strategy if there are clear frameworks to ground near-term priorities in the long-term vision, silos are broken down to deliver on customer needs, and customer  understanding is leveraged to its highest potential. Employees at all levels must then be empowered, and even incentivized, to execute on the customer-centric purpose, led by leaders who role model by incorporating the customer perspective in decision making. And finally, integrating purpose into day-to-day operations requires clear communication and understanding at every stage.

This report provides an enduring perspective into the ways companies can maximize their potential by properly investing in and activating on their corporate purpose. We invite you to join us in this pursuit to cultivate customer experiences and outcomes that flow both from and to the very heart of your organization’s existence. »

*Results published in “Experiences to Outcomes: CX Strategy Through the Executive Lens” in  partnership with Insight Wave.


Samantha Herzing, Strategy & Implementation Lead Gongos, Inc. ( & David Robbins Vice President, Client Consulting Gongos, Inc. (


Harvard Business Review Analytic Services is an independent commercial research unit within Harvard Business Review Group, conducting research and comparative analysis on important management challenges and emerging business opportunities. Seeking to provide business intelligence and peer-group insight, each report is published based on the findings of original quantitative and/or qualitative research and analysis. Quantitative surveys are conducted with the HBR Advisory Council, HBR’s global research panel, and qualitative research is conducted with senior business executives and subject matter experts from within and beyond the Harvard Business Review author community.

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