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Tips on Creating a Customer-Centric Culture with Steven Van Belleghem

How Small Improvements Create Lasting Change in Customer Experience

Shep Hyken interviews Steven Van Belleghem, customer experience expert and author of A Diamond in the Rough: Over a 100 Specific Tips to Build a Strong Customer Culture. He talks about how embracing effective empathy, empowering employees to make meaningful decisions, and building emotional customer relationships can transform companies into customer-centric organizations.

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Top Takeaways:

  • The key to transforming companies into customer-centric organizations lies in adopting a customer experience mindset. When leaders prioritize the customer experience, it influences the entire company culture.  
  • Empowering employees to take positive actions that benefit customers can significantly impact team morale and reinforce the company’s customer-centric goals. Leaders need to continuously communicate and appreciate the impact of customer-centric behaviors. 
  • True customer loyalty extends beyond transactional interactions and loyalty programs. Building authentic, emotional customer relationships can lead to loyalty and increased revenue. For example, offering knowledge and content for free or demonstrating appreciation for customers at all stages of their journey creates loyalty and long-term relationships. 
  • 95% of your customers will be friendly, regular people. But 5% of your customers can be complete nightmares, and nothing you do will be good enough for them. Companies often lean towards focusing on the negative 5% of customer interactions, which can result in the creation of rules and procedures based on outliers. Don’t punish your good customers for the sins of the few bad ones. 
  • Embracing a philosophy of making small, incremental improvements can lead to significant overall change in the customer experience. When companies focus on constant improvement, even if it’s just 1% at a time, it can create a wave of positive impact on customer satisfaction. 
  • Empowering employees to make small decisions and take immediate action to address customer needs can improve customer experience and loyalty. Training employees to effectively handle customer issues without having to always ask for permission enhances their ability to make decisions that benefit customers. Encouraging and reinforcing customer-centric behavior and sharing success stories during team meetings can motivate and guide employees toward delivering outstanding customer service. 
  • Plus, Shep and Steven discuss why some companies remain “diamonds in the rough” and never successfully cultivate a customer-centric culture. Tune in! 


“It all starts with leadership. The biggest barrier for companies to succeed in their goal of becoming customer-centric is when teams don’t believe their leaders.” 

“Effective empathy combines fast feedback with fast action. Small improvements that can be accomplished right away can have a bigger impact on your customer’s experience and create a feeling of success for your employees.” 

“Most loyalty programs are transactional. It creates loyalty to the program and not the brand. What really creates loyalty is an emotional relationship.” 


Steven Van Belleghem is a customer experience thought leader and keynote speaker. He is the author of six bestselling books. His latest book, A Diamond in the Rough: Over 100 Specific Tips to Build a Strong Customer Culture, is available now!  

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and host of Amazing Business Radio.   

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions and more:   

  1. How can leaders instill a customer-centric culture in their organization? 
  2. How can employee empowerment impact customer experience and loyalty? 
  3. What is effective empathy? 
  4. How can organizations effectively build an emotional relationship with customers to foster true loyalty? 
  5. What distinguishes true loyalty programs from marketing loyalty programs? 

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