Chapter 3

Building a Blueprint to Deliver for Customer

Executive Summary

To better understand and find value in their work, we must equip teams with more opportunities to empathize with customers and connect their work to the broader mission, or rather, “the why.”  By understanding the impact of their work through a customer-centric lens, they can work more efficiently and purposefully. In this roundtable, we spoke to Anil Madan, VP of Data & Analytics at Intuit, about strategic gameplans, defining and communicating True North goals, and centralizing versus democratizing analytics.

Takeaways from Executive Expert at Intuit

Anil spoke about critical components that every company’s strategic game plan should have — defining and communicating big bets, True North goals, and your long-term mission. He also shared his thoughts on whether analytics should be centralized or democratized.

  • Create a blueprint to drive clarity throughout your organization. Every organization should have a game plan to deliver for customers, starting from the mission statement, followed by broader goals, strategies, and metrics that truly guide every project, product, and workday. This chart can be publicly shared with all company stakeholders, from employees to shareholders, to boost accountability and define purpose.

  • Embed customer value and empathy into every level of your plan. From C-suite executives to interns, every member of the organization should understand how its mission delivers outcomes or proves value for customers. Every team’s goals should be backed with customer outcomes, with progress measured by the ability to deliver on customer satisfaction.

  • Actively invest in data democratization. Providing teams with tools or resources isn’t enough. Intuit has a culture where internal products, such as dashboards, are built just like consumer products — intuitive, design-backed, and visually appealing. Companies should invest in internal user experience just as much as external user tools.
  • Adoption is about pull, not push. Team managers should “pull” by integrating and enhancing the work of internal teams, rather than “push” data and tools to them in a way that doesn’t intuitively and efficiently fit into existing work processes. Celebrate examples of internal teams using data to drive outcomes and explicitly build customer interactions —  both interacting with customer data and directly with the customer — in your product development role. Meeting with customers should be a requirement.

Takeaways from Executive Peers

Our attendees reflected on how their teams — especially non-customer facing ones, such as engineering, design, analytics, and data science — stayed close to consumers. Many brought up helpful suggestions, including specific technologies that equip teams with customer data and insights, as well as cross-organization cultural changes that make customers a part of the company’s DNA.

  • Empower with empathy. Organization leaders must equip teams with more ways to empathize with customers and connect to the broader mission (“the why”). Here are some ideas on how to combat common challenges:
  • Selecting methods: Select several approaches that address different customer needs and perspectives (see example below from Forrester). Instead of merely focusing on the customer’s explicit needs, it is also essential to consider their implicit needs for high business impact. Understanding user behaviors can help teams identify solutions when customers are aware of pain points but don’t realize the underlying cause of the problem.

  • Scaling: It is critical to implement analytics that are collaborative, self-service, and can embed into the existing (or desired) product development workflow. The adoption of these tools and processes is crucial to building a data-driven, customer-first organization.
  • Maintaining Accountability: Developing a goal-setting framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes is vital to maintaining accountability and integrating customer data into daily work.
  • There are many approaches to bringing teams closer to customers. Here are some ideas on how to embed customer interaction and data into the product development process:
  • Instead of decks with pure data, complement the numbers with stories behind customer behavior.
  • Schedule bi-weekly data deep-dive meetings, and ask everyone involved to bring a data-backed finding.
  • Host product feedback groups and regular customer insights sessions.
  • Embed charts and visuals into product specs to make them more customer-friendly.
  • Include engineering and product in sales calls where they are demoing the product.
  • Engineering shadow days – ride alongs with customer service and sales reps.
  • Add customer metrics to each team’s “objectives and key results” charts.
  • More storytelling. Data and more direct interaction with customers are simply not enough for companies to thrive. Instead, the power lies in creating compelling stories for your organization — unfortunately, most product teams aren’t equipped with enough storytellers. Thus, the responsibility often falls on product development teams. Consider investing more in internal marketing — partner with product marketing (or even better, hire product marketers designated to internal messaging) to help the team connect their work with the customer and business impact.
  • Overcome common data roadblocks. Many organizations struggle with inaccurate or inaccessible data or data that is simply “hard to believe.” It’s frustrating for teams to experience because the investment level to obtain and disseminate data is not low. Here are three root causes commonly seen across companies:
  • Product improperly instrumented: These teams have invested in product analytics, but the data is inaccurate, duplicative, and messy. Alternatively, they’re not capturing the right behavioral data points, so they lose depth of insight, failing to drive decision-making. Instead, get teams aligned to the strategic benefit and find solutions that offer precision tracking. Also, arm teams with codeless data governance tools and data connectors so you can have accurate, comprehensive data without too much engineering time.
  • Analytics improperly implemented: How do you onboard an organization that is lower on the maturity curve? Rolling out customer insight solutions with wins and best practices is critical. Developing detailed use cases and example charts can help teams understand when and how to use specific analytics.
  • Low adoption of data and analytics: Usability is one of the primary factors that drive adoption. Focus on solutions that are easy to use across the data literacy spectrum and factor in collaboration so customer insights can be shared across the company. Remove friction, so analytics users can create and share learnings with ease.
Summary What you can do What your team can do
Have a mission and vision that emphasizes and delivers for customers.
  • Create a blueprint to drive clarity throughout your organization — include your mission, values, 2025 goals, True North goals, strategy, big bets, and metrics (see example above).
  • Organize a training session for executives so they can better embody and communicate customer empathy.
  • Read the Intuit Case Study to learn how they managed to enable hundreds of product, engineering, and growth teams to build for their customers and deliver some of Intuit’s most successful products.
  • Require teams to meet with customers consistently. Make sure product developers regularly interact with customer data and directly with the customer.
  • Audit your team’s product development processes — is customer empathy addressed at every step?
  • Have the team brainstorm ways to embed customer interaction and data into the product development process.
Actively invest in data democratization.
  • Invest in the internal user experience. Review your internal products for areas of improvement — can they be made more intuitive and design-backed?
  • Celebrate examples of internal teams using data to drive outcomes and explicitly.
  • Discuss the roadblocks of current data and analytics tools with your team, and brainstorm ways to address these issues.

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