Leading the transition to a Customer First Culture

The Context

Transformation projects led by Mirabilis Management have all involved scoping and delivering Customer First as major programmes of work within organisational change programmes.  The market sectors in focus included: Skills, Qualifications, Educational Publishing, News Media, and English Language Content. 

The Customer First programmes all had in common that the organisations were product team led, using waterfall development management, had lost touch with customer needs, and were losing market share to competitors who were more agile and customer focused. 

This case study focuses on Customer First Leadership for a global educational publishing company.  

The Client Aims 

Our Customer First Clients have all aimed for the organisation to transition from product to market thinking and ways of working to methodologies and ways of work that put the customer at the centre of the thinking to ensure a match for the customer with procedures and attitudes of teams in every department in the organisation. 

For the educational publishing company, this included leading a change in the attitudes and procedures for: product/content teams, marketing/pricing teams, sales/customer service teams, technology, finance, strategy, and legal teams. 

As a result of the Customer First programme, people in every part of the organisation, across the globe, were to transition from taking a product to market approach and move to a culture whereby everyone ‘considers the customer impact of the way they act and work’ so that customer satisfaction increased, and the organisation retained and grew market resonance and share. 

The Customer First Service Engaged 

The founding director of Mirabilis Management led the Customer First initiative for this programme of work, leading and coaching teams in a global matrix culture to: 

Customer First Programme Leadership  

Mirabilis Management puts audiences and customers at the centre of the thinking through Customer First initiatives using strong leadership skills and ensuring knowledge transfer to sustain the cultural change: 

Headings all E below: 

This involved market research and running workshops with leaders in all regions to uncover for every part of the business, the current state of the organisation against customer trends and market need, and the required future state, identifying what needed to be done to get there. 

After a six-month period of working with all departments across regions, we produced a full report and managed the development of the Customer First case for change presentation which was presented to the Board by Mirabilis and Change Agents from the global organisation. We were responsible for presenting the market change scenarios prior to the respective leads presenting their departmental case for change against these.  

Programme Design and Management 

The case for change was approved, leading to our developing a Customer First programme design based on Agile methodology, working with the organisation’s own Agile Coach. 

Customer-Focused Activities introduced as a result of this programme
Some examples of new ways of working that drive the cultural change include the introduction of the following procedures in respective departments: 

Product: Agile ways of working using Agile product delivery methods, workshops, away-days with leads, brown bag lunch and lean coffee sessions, personas, journey mapping, panels and market research surveys
Marketing: Increased market research and customer persona development – linked to the product teams. Marcoms/Website development/Social Media focused on personas and customer segments/groups with regional and market variations as appropriate 
Sales: Sales force effectiveness and key account management
Customer Service: NPS score monitoring and management 
HR: Supporting leaders and managers to set customer focused objectives and improving their own internal customer and recruitment practices to be more focused on the people in receipt of their service
Finance: Prioritisation of credit control and invoice payments 
Technology: Prioritisation of customer facing tech issues so that they are resolved first
Legal: Prioritisation of contracts to match sales force effectiveness and key account management 

Implementation and knowledge transfer

Our lead mentored and coached change agents, department leads and HR to ensure that training was available, objectives were driving the cultural change, and also transferred the skills of customer research and analysis, internal and external change comms, and organisational design and implementation so that the change would be sustainable. 

The Agile Coach was retained across the organisation for another 6-months after the programme completed to embed customer focused Agile methods of working. 

A Customer Insight team was introduced in the organisation for ongoing customer-focused research, and continued dashboard reporting of customer feedback and NPS findings


NPS score improvement was the key measure of this programme and improvements were clear for all departments over an 18-month period. Ongoing, the scores and customer feedback are available on screens and in management and team reporting globally as a reminder to everyone of the impact they are having on customers. The outcome has been growth in customer engagement and loyalty to the organisation with retention of customers and a desire by them to be involved in customer panels and to engage with the organisation to build its success.