Build Your Customer-First Foundation, Align Your Team, and Unite the C-Suite with Data-Backed Insights


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As many of us continue to work from home and shift working styles due to the pandemic, I’ve been interviewing practitioners and thought leaders about how we can adapt and continue to show up as our best selves in our roles. To that end, I want to share with you my recent interview with Camille Harrison, the SVP & COO of Guidewell Commercial Market, and Guidewell Innovation. Guidewell is the parent company of Florida Blue. Camille shared with our audience her insights and advice for experience leaders in the healthcare and insurance industries.

Some of the quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.

Camille is in the insurance industry where she works with multiple customer segments, so there are a lot of moving parts to her work. During our conversation, Camille and I discuss the importance of not “boiling the ocean” when it comes to implementing change, and Camille shares some of the techniques she’s used to unite folks across her organization, including the C-Suite, in order to move the customer-first work forward.

The Foundation of Your Work Will Give You the Opportunities to do the “Cool” Work Later on

Camille explains that it’s important to focus on the foundation. She shares that she and her team started by pulling together all of their insights and analytics so they could have a solid place to build upon. She says that once you’ve got your foundation in place, you have to start sharing the deeper knowledge with your team so everyone can understand what’s happening.

We spend a lot of time making sure that the whole organization can see the impact of their work, as opposed to being limited to the centralized group of people who are experts at it. So we spent a lot of time knowledge sharing, and really making sure people understood what was happening environmentally.

We don’t just build an action plan in a vacuum.
We go to the people who are actually responsible for that business process. And they help us understand our insights. Because our insights are just words on a page, but we bring them to life when talking to experts in that space. So you’re co-developing solutions, and then you bring in the customer and say, here’s what we think we heard, right? Will this work for you and your customers?”

Create a Center of Excellence

Camille shares that with the support of Guidewell’s new VP, her team was able to create a center of excellence:

We spent a lot of time building foundational capabilities to really listen to customers […] I mean, that is how, frankly, we unite the C suite, right? Because data is uniting right? Insights are widening that people understand what’s driving satisfaction and not. And we’re able to build plans around that in order to drive the outcome of the change that we want.”

She also shares this important message about their journey to being customer-focused:

We found that we were building our business rules and practices around our business objectives rather than the customer’s journey and their expectation. So when we realized that, we took a step back, and we identified six priority journeys. […] Now we orchestrate our business process around the journey or the objectives they’re trying to meet. So it’s really just a pivot and how you’re looking at the same set of problems. But you’re thinking about it and you’re solving from the customer’s vantage point, and you’re leveraging your relationship with the customer to do it.”

The Whole Organization Must be Aligned with the Expectations

Camille shares that now that Guidewell has developed its customer-first focus, both the C-Suite and the organization are aligning with the expectations.

When it comes to engaging the C-suite in order to get movement going, she shares the following:

Come with data, come with information, not opinions, because you can opine all day long about what you think the issues and the opportunities are, but when you can bring very specific actionable items forward, you’re going to get an invitation to the Party every single time. Make sure that you have it in a way that’s consumable, repeatable, and sustainable.”

You can’t bring one report and think that you’ve sold you know, your C suite that this is these are the action, there’s got to be consistent, a pattern of bringing information forward to be able to to really drive the results that you need. Make sure you’re having a conversation deeper in the organization where the work happens.”

Have you been keeping up with me on my LinkedIn Live conversations? If not, what are you waiting for? I encourage you to follow me on LinkedIn so you can watch more interviews with industry top leaders, and if you don’t already follow my podcast, click on the link to get new episodes delivered right to your inbox!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Nice article.
    Customer centricity is just lip service unless Leadership walks the talk! Companies become customer-centric when your route to personal growth is through serving the customer. I remember being the CMO in the late 1990s at Shoppers Stop & B. S. Nagesh, the CEO, exemplified being a customer-centric leader. Diwali (then & now) was a big event in retail & I remember how he asked all leaders in the central team to be out there in the stores manning some customer-facing role-cashier, customer care associate, etc just so that we get what it means to see Diwali shopping pressure in the arena! Again when I was the CMO at HDFC bank, I remember a point when complaints kept coming in about how customers would call an HDFC bank office & no one would pick up or would leave a customer unattended. Aditya Puri instituted this process where he would call any random office every morning & he expected to hear “This is HDFC bank. May I help you”. If he didn’t hear that, he would call you back & then you heard him! Suddenly, customer calls started being taken & life improved for the customer.

    The above are more cosmetic examples of customer-centric action. How you embed the customer in your decision making is the real issue. More here:


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