Firms Need Some Soul Searching

Let me start with an observation: most organizations have lost their souls.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on a diatribe about Satan or religious redemption. What I mean is that most organizations don’t know what they stand for — they’ve benchmarked themselves into cookie-cutter imitations of all their competitors. It’s really hard to tell the actual difference between banks or retailers or airlines or whatever. Firms try to use marketing gimmicks to fool customers into believing that there’s a real difference. And some more advanced firms use micro-segmentation and analytics to deliver customized messages to smaller and smaller groups of people. But, alas, customers are getting smarter — and any type of marketing pitch is becoming less effective. So what are firms to do?

Find your soul!

The path to redemption starts by anwering two questions (honestly):

  • How is your organization truly different?

  • How do you want your organization to be truly different?

These questions need to be asked from the perspective of all of your key constituent groups, which for most companies starts with customers and employees. Howard Shultz, founder and Chairman of Starbucks, has been quoted as saying…

Customers must recognize that you stand for something.

If your looking for me to now provide a step-by-step process for saving your souls, you’ll be disappointed. While I’ll probably touch on some left-brained approaches in future posts, the path to salvation starts with a more right-brain commitment to re-defining or re-invigorating what your organization stands for. So instead of reading some itemized advice, I suggest that you start by watching this video…  

The bottom line: It’s time to find (or restore) your organization’s soul!

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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