The Transformation Playbook

Learn how to change mindsets, connect silos, and centre around your customer.
Bret Taylor
President and Chief Product Officer, Salesforce

For years, I’ve heard business leaders discuss the need to digitally transform and achieve a holistic view of the customer. Lately, I’ve found those discussions to be even more urgent.

Realistically, though, it’s not about being a digital company or even a digitally transformed company. Every company needs to be a customer company.

Conventional attitudes, silos, and legacy systems often stand between leaders and customer-centricity. And while technology can help, that alone is not the answer. Simply applying new technology to old ways of doing things won’t magically change the way your teams deliver a great customer experience at scale.

I’ve noticed transformation happens when leaders stop focusing internally on technology, products, departments, or systems — and recentre around their customers.

Easy to say, harder to do. We hope this playbook helps you confidently lead change. Our work with thousands of C-suite leaders from organisations of all sizes and industries has uncovered patterns of what it takes for successful companies to get it right as they evolve to be more customer-centric.

Whether you’re a CEO in financial services, a CIO in B2B tech, or another leader ready to make meaningful change, I hope this playbook helps you bring the customer closer to the centre of your business.

Chapters in this playbook

You might be wondering: What makes this playbook different from everything else about this topic?

We’re offering this guidance based on what Salesforce has learned from thousands of working sessions and projects with C-suite leaders over our 21-year history. Across industries and functions, we’ve found the core challenges are the same — and so are the key questions to ask your teams as you drive a customer-first revolution.

What is customer 360 transformation, and why now?

Business transformation has reached a critical inflection point.

For decades, businesses competed on the ability to build and distribute the best product or service. Leaders thought, “Build it and they will come.”

It made sense to put the product at the centre of a business.

But in recent years, new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) began turning this world upside down. In 2020, the effects of COVID-19 brought about even more changes. Companies have had to find new ways to work, connect, and collaborate from anywhere.

With so many choices at their fingertips, customers now choose to spend their time and money with businesses that put them first. Research shows that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Future-fit companies are evolving accordingly, redesigning their businesses to compete on the most important market differentiator: their ability to understand, engage, and earn the trust of their customers. These companies put the customer at the centre.

Salesforce’s business has been built on the gradual evolution from a product-centric world to one in which customers demand to be at the centre of your business. The Salesforce technology platform is singularly focused on enabling this. And we’ve learned one important thing helping leaders do that for the past 21 years: Adding new technology to old-fashioned, product-centric thinking doesn’t generate the change businesses really need.

That’s why this playbook is focused on what we call customer 360 transformation — an approach that puts the customer in the centre of your feedback loop and innovation cycle.

No matter what the future holds, customer 360 transformation rallies every department, employee, and stakeholder around customers’ needs.

To work toward this transformation, get familiar with two key terms that we’ll reference throughout this playbook: mindsets and disciplines.

Mindsets: Mindsets are the common assumptions that shape how people behave, either holding companies back or propelling them forward.

Disciplines: Disciplines are customer-centric business practices that unite employees, departments, and partners to solve customer needs with the full force of the organisation.

How to work toward customer 360 transformation with this guide

The idea of hitting reset on your organisation’s efforts toward customer centricity may have you breaking out in a cold sweat, but the steps outlined in this guide will help you make a plan and evolve. This playbook’s five chapters will begin your journey with thought starters and practical tips.

Chapter 1: Understand the Importance of Changing Mindsets in Your Organisation

Our working sessions with leaders have made it clear: To create change, you need to change how people see the world – thus, their mindsets.

Most CEOs look at their business and see two ways to change. The first is to use technology as the latest in a flow of incremental innovation. These leaders believe they can optimise their existing business while driving productivity and efficiency. This is a defensive strategy – the renovate mindset. Pouring new technology over old processes may make these leaders’ companies faster and more efficient, but it won’t let them fully take advantage of these technologies and the opportunity to truly reimagine their business practices to be more effective.

Tip the scale and find other leaders in the transcend mindset. These are the disrupters and startup entrepreneurs of today — leaders imagining new ways to create customer value.

The challenge, however, is that most existing companies cannot build customer-centricity from the ground up. Instead, they must connect customer innovations (business models, new offerings, customer experience improvements) with the realities of their existing middle and back office. They must transform their existing culture, organisational capabilities, and business practices that have been honed into muscle memory over the decades, and the technology stack that underlies it all. This is a different challenge, and it requires a different mindset: evolve.
The evolve mindset is the bridge to a customer-centric future. Companies will continue to have activities shaped by all three mindsets, but to successfully transform, the executive focus should disproportionately be to evolve.

Get started: Explore company mindsets

You can probably guess your own company’s mindset. Just do a quick audit of where your leadership and management team spends its time. Most companies aren’t changing how they think but are simply improving what they already do. That’s not an evolve mindset.

You may find your leadership team is completely aligned to a transformative vision that seems like an evolve mindset. But do your business metrics reflect that vision? Is every employee truly aligned and evolving how they work? If not, the renovate mindset will remain the predominant force.

Use these conversation starters with peers, leaders, and team members to further explore your mindsets:

  • Inside our organisation, where do we see customer-centricity? Who are the leaders and teams that are the most customer-centric, and what can we learn from them? What’s holding us back from customer centricity?
  • Who are the digital disruptors that inspire us? What are they doing differently?
  • Are there teams that stick to muscle memory, rather than finding better ways to serve the customer? How might we help them evolve? How can we avoid slipping back into old habits?

Ultimately, you only need to settle on one question: How do we move from renovate to evolve?

We see one clear, actionable answer to that question, distilled from tens of thousands of customer engagements. Your company needs to practice these four disciplines, which we’ll cover in this guide’s next four chapters. Think of these as four muscles you need to build and condition.


More Resources

Create your Customer 360 in two simple steps.

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