The Customer Prevention Culture℠ - The Halpin Group

The Customer Prevention Culture℠

18 months ago, I published The Customer Prevention Culture℠ to help B2B companies understand the impact of culture on their ability to attract, convert and retain customer relationships. The book comes from my experience as a sales pro and contains powerful messages all business leaders should read and heed. Readers are exposed to a systemic problem pervasive in most organizations, the underlying causes and impact to the customer experience. While it’s clear no person, team or company would knowingly sabotage their own business, when left to their own devices the culture to avoid leaves organizations diseased, making it painful for customers to do business. In the end, a dysfunctional company culture impedes selling efforts and requires leadership to adopt a cultural standard so their organization learns to become one team with one goal.

The table provides a snapshot of the culture to avoid and the one to embrace.

The Culture to Avoid The Culture to Embrace
The Customer Prevention Culture℠  Key Mindsets to Adopt  The Culture of Commerce℠  
The Customer is NOT King!A Desperate Customer-First MindsetThe Customer is King!
Company-Centric Infrastructure – People, Process & TechnologyEnterprise Workflows Serve The Customer First, Internal Stakeholders SecondCustomer-Centric Infrastructure – People, Process & Technology
Customer Touchpoints Break Confidence Interactions That Consistently Build Confidence, Create Disciples  Customer Touchpoints Build Confidence
Tribes & Silos – Team Lacks Shared Organizational OutcomesEnterprise Workflows Are Interconnected and Interdependent – All Team Members Have a CustomerOne Team – One Goal With Shared Organizational Outcomes
No Values to Form CultureA Cultural Standard to Inform Team Behavior and An Organizational Way of LifeValues Form Culture

Key Mindsets to Adopt The Culture of Commerce℠

In the following summary, I describe The Customer Prevention Culture℠ by outlining the 5 common missteps to avoid and then highlight the mindset necessary to adopt The Culture of Commerce℠.

  1. The Customer is NOT King!

The customer has become a nuisance and is no longer viewed as the reason for the company’s existence. How does the customer go from king to nuisance? The lifecycle of a business generally begins with stage one or startup and then evolves over time. At startup, the customer must be king or the enterprise doesn’t survive. As the company grows and evolves, the complexity of the business changes with more headcount and management. At stage 5 or maturity, the idea that the customer is king is often new information. Therein lies the problem. Entrepreneurial startups have a desperation about making the customer THE priority. Mature companies slowly drift away from this customer-first urgency because they’re distracted by the demands of the business. This creates a breeding ground for The Customer Prevention Culture℠ to form.

Takeaway: In order for the customer to be king, there must be a never-ending obsession to maintain a customer-first mindset throughout the organization.

2. Company-Centric Infrastructure

In a company-centric model, the enterprise’s workflows made up of people, process and technology seek first to serve internal stakeholders ahead of the customer. As an example, a company purchasing a new ERP system might base their decision on multiple factors but prioritize the needs of their accounting and finance department. Additionally, the ERP system comes with “out of the box workflows” which may or may not serve the customer. This illustration is a company-centric mindset and entirely out of order. The ERP system should serve the customer first and all other internal stakeholders second, which would reframe the ERP decision-making process and implementation plan. The total deployment of people, process and technology must be customer-centric and internal stakeholders take a back seat. Otherwise the cumulative effect of company-centric decisions creates a friction-filled customer experience.  

Takeaway: Customer-centric business models assume that, if the customer is the priority, everything else will take care of itself. That happens by making the customer the primary consideration in every workflow rather than an afterthought.

3. Customer Touchpoints Break Confidence

Customers interface with internal teams in various functional areas throughout the customer lifecycle. Customer service, operations, quality, tech support, accounts receivable and website visits are just a few examples of where customers interact across a variety of mediums. These customer touchpoints either build or break confidence. Breaking confidence causes friction which may mean slowing down the customer’s desired pace of doing business, creating confusion or eroding trust throughout the customer experience. When too many customer touchpoints break confidence, life becomes difficult for the customer and they leave for a source that makes life easier. In The Culture of Commerce℠ teams capitalize on customer touchpoints to differentiate, build confidence and strengthen the relationship.

Takeaway: Teams that build confidence recognize the customer experience extends beyond the purchase order. When teams take ownership of customer touchpoints within their workflow, they are initiated into the sales team as the entire organization contributes to a friction-free customer experience.   

4. Tribes and Silos – No Shared Organizational Outcomes

We’ve all experienced being a customer with a dysfunctional supplier whose team is misaligned and disjointed. In these scenarios the supplier’s team doesn’t realize their workflows are interdependent and interconnected and therefore can’t effectively engage in shared organizational outcomes. Their collective blindspot keeps them from understanding the enterprise exists for the sole purpose of serving the customer. Instead, they operate as tribes and silos which consistently creates friction in the customer experience. In The Culture of Commerce℠ every team has a customer, whether internal or external, which encourages a more holistic view of how each team member contributes to the customer experience.  

Takeaway: The presence of tribes and silos is a result of leadership’s failure to cast a common vision for the team to unify around. The Culture of Commerce℠ teaches the One Team – One Goal mindset with tools to accelerate adoption.

5. No Values to Form Culture

Raising a family requires we teach values and standards to our children. If we don’t, it becomes nearly impossible to coach them when their behavior is out of line with the vision we have for them. The same is true in business. If we don’t establish and teach values to inform team behavior, it becomes difficult to create an organizational way of life that can be experienced by customers. At Zappo’s they publish their values on every package that ships out the door. As a result, they’re telling employees and customers “Hold us accountable.” That’s powerful. How willing are business owners and leaders to do the same? Without publishing values that are authentic, they are empty words that decorate our workspaces.

Takeaway: Without establishing and publishing values, it’s difficult to inform team behavior and create an organizational way of life.

The Customer Prevention Culture℠ was birthed out of my experience as a manufacturer’s rep and what I wished all of my principals knew. My goal is to help business owners and leaders with frameworks that challenge institutionalized mindsets by lifting up teams and improving business environments. Ultimately, it’s about greasing the skids of commerce by being customer-centric in all ways. When teams adopt The Culture of Commerce℠ they benefit from the power of one team with one goal and learn how to build culture, drive sales and create disciples. Although many leaders readily admit a strong culture is essential to the success of their business, it’s often viewed as mystical and intangible. It doesn’t have to be that way and why I’ve outlined the 5 common missteps in the culture to avoid and the 5 principles in the culture to embrace.

The Culture of Commerce℠ is a proactive leadership mindset that shapes a values-based, organizational way of life and influences how customers feel when doing business with a company. Teams learn their workflows are interdependent and interconnected, which increases employee engagement by persuading them to think differently about their role in the customer experience. When teams adopt The Culture of Commerce℠, The Sales Engine℠ is unleashed as the entire organization learns they too are members of the sales team. There are no customer-facing or non-customer-facing roles, only customer-impacting roles. Every team member is responsible for the customer experience and every team member learns they all have a customer, whether internal or external. For the customer, doing business becomes effortless as friction is replaced with flow throughout the customer experience.  

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