To stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive business world, it is essential to act in a customer-centred way. Consistently practising customer centricity is the magic word. In this case study, you will learn exactly how this can be achieved.


A customer-centred approach to the job

This year, we enjoyed an assignment that put our competencies to the test, for once in the medical sector. On recommendation, we received a request to conduct a qualification in project management.

As we know, it is important to us to find customer-centred solutions, so we used the Design Thinking approach. Design thinking, as the name might suggest, is not just for designers. Rather, it is a process, toolbox and attitude that even the most traditional thinkers can adopt – or we can 😉 .

The problem-solving approach, design thinking, focuses on understanding and considering the needs of users to create innovative solutions. It usually includes the following phases:


Listening and meeting the client where they are at the moment

In the sense of “understanding” and “observing” – the first steps in Design Thinking – we held discussions with the client. Not only to shed light on the assignment, but even more so to sense their needs and pain points. In the process, it became clear that the client was fundamentally interested in transforming the existing classic qualification format. Instead of exclusively full-day seminars we went for innovative approaches, beyond the mandate of conducting a qualification. Building on empathy, we opened up incentives for them to think in the direction of hybrid learning journeys or camps, which are, among other things, our passion.


Opening up new paths and orienting the customer

To ensure that the proposed concepts did not remain foreign words for our client, we created a rough design of a hybrid learning journey. The presentation of this in a joint discussion met with enthusiasm. This verified the reformulation of the client’s problem – the step of “defining the point of view” in design thinking.


Putting our heads together in a creative and competence-oriented way

Always oriented towards the needs of the client, we generated creative ideas and potential solutions for a comprehensive qualification concept in brainstorming during our Lunch & Learn meetings as a team. The basis for this was the design of the learning journey agreed with the client in the design thinking step “finding ideas” as well as the competence approach of wanting (motivation), knowing (cognitive knowledge and skills) and being able (applying the skills and abilities in real situations).


Creating exceptional customer experiences with a focus on needs

A few weeks and iterations in the team as well as with the client later, the “prototype” of design thinking was ready. An overall concept that provides qualification units for all competence areas. To ensure a positive experience and even more an experience for the client and the end-users, we built special features that are client-centric. Self-learning modules with multimedia related links allow participants to acquire knowledge at their own pace and in their individual preferred learning style. Various hybrid units place an increased focus on peer group building and community learning, which enables the exchange of experiences and mutual support. The real-life cases of the participants used in the application exercises facilitate the subsequent transfer of what has been learned into everyday working life. All in all, the learning journey is varied and exciting.


Feedback, feedback, feedback is the motto

Now, in the “test phase” of the Designing Thinking, the participants are working diligently on the implementation of the Learning Journey. Close coordination and feedback with the client should enable continuous improvement of the qualification. Opportunities for improvement can be identified and the Learning Journey units can be adapted if necessary.


Our conclusion

Once again we were able to experience the feeling of client trust. With sensitivity, we were able to sense the needs of our new client and understand their business requirements and challenges. Thanks to the customer-centred solution options, he showed himself willing to go down new paths of qualification together with us. Regular discussions allowed us to include the customer in our conception phase and to always capture and consider his opinions. In this way, we were able to find the best possible solution for the client. Even after the first implementation steps of the Learning Journey, in which both the client himself and other employees participated, we met a satisfied client. We remain curious about the further experiences!


In today’s world, B2C business is confronted with enormously high expectations from its customers. These expectations must be met throughout the entire customer journey, especially in stationary retail. This raises the question of where added value can be created when the well-informed customer already knows everything. One possible answer is to open up an experience space and present yourself as a host. A host for customers.

Mindset Change in stationary retail

A lot has happened in recent years since omnichannel has taken hold. Today, it is a matter of course that customers are provided with full 24-hour support via a wide range of virtual and live channels. Services such as 24-hour shopping, chatbots, personal round-the-clock telephone support, and even parcel couriers who contact customers when no one is at home or collect the unwanted product, are currently standard.

These experiences determine the demands of today’s customers in their purchasing behavior. This has a significant impact on retailers and their employees. The times when a “Can I help you?” or a “If I can help with anything, just get in touch” were enough are over. Now it’s about picking up the customer where he or she stands and creating an experience. Make the customer feel welcome and in good hands. Being a host for customers.

This calls for a mindset change among people in stationary retail.
But what does that actually mean: being a host for customers?

From concierge to host for customers

From the hotel industry, the role of the concierge is well known. A concierge fulfills the most individual wishes of his customers. He does not sell a product per se, but a feeling. The feeling of hospitality. In other words, he takes on the role of host and ensures that the customer feels at home from the very first second. The stationary retail for luxury and premium products has adopted this concept of the concierge. Today, employees are no longer just brand ambassadors, but also hosts who create experiences for customers.

This is a job enrichment and it requires the expansion of the skill set.

In this case, a multi-modular Learning Journey over a period of 3-4 months has proven its worth. TCJG has developed it on behalf of a client and has now conducted it several times. For hosts for customers.
Including the stages: Mindset, Skillset and Toolset. With virtual and face-to-face workshops, a learner community, self-learning and learning-on-the-job units and at the end a best-business-practise-sharing.

A journey of self-awareness towards becoming an individual host

Arrive, observe and understand

It starts with a webinar where all prospective hosts:in get to know each other and learn the itinerary. It is led by a host for customers. For his host-customers.

In the first phase, the participants make their own observations and collect stories with personal host experiences. In addition, self-learning material is available that provides orientation on concepts such as customer centricity or contact and relationship management or even the needs of customers today.
Sharing is caring, therefore they share their thoughts with the fellow participants in the community and reflect their impressions for the first time with a coach. The goal is to understand the customer, their own role or even expectations and possible appropriate behaviors.

Experience, discover and try out

Then the participants meet for a 1.5-day experience-oriented presence workshop. The goal of the live workshop is to develop a coherent understanding of the role of the host and to build competence in creating exceptional customer experiences.

The participants go through a variety of interactive exercises and reflections. For example, there is a rally with mini-sessions on skills and behavior in contact and communication situations. Or a course where, among other things, simulations take place with actors who slip into the role of customers and realistically re-enact various customer situations. The participants receive direct feedback from the actors on their behavior. The creative unit, in which host avatars are created by many hands and with heart, is particularly appreciated.

The highlight is certainly the experience of being received and cared for by hosts as a customer at a dinner. In the process, role models are reflected. Legendary are the hosts’ stories in an informal round, with which the evening ends.

Deepen, share and celebrate

After the workshop, it’s a matter of putting what you’ve learned into action. As a host, this means creating exceptional customer experiences in the workplace. The participants not only consolidate the skills they have acquired. They also act as role models and mentors for other colleagues in their own retail business over a period of around 6 weeks. They share their experiences with peers. Tips are welcome. In this way, they succeed in internalizing the attitude of the host, acquire special skills in communication and contact behavior with customers, and mature into hosts for customers.

At the end, the best business practices will be contested in a collegial competition. All participants pitch their best practices for a “Host for Customers” award. It is clear that there can only be winners. In any case, everyone celebrates the completion together.


What do you think, would the role of a host also be something for the people in your organization?

We look forward to exchanging ideas.

Please contact us.

This case was written by Katharina Popovits.

During our own Company Future Journey, we have received valuable gifts from our customers. They let us know openly and willingly what really matters to them when it comes to an effective cooperation with a service provider. We are very grateful for this and have learned a lot during this process. We are happy to share these experiences with you here. Especially since we are convinced that they can be multiplied infinitely.

The Journey towards Understanding

In the course of our own realignment, we also set out to fully understand our (potential) customers. To do so, we spent dedicated time in an observer position, taking a metaphorical perspective. What moves our customers, how do they act, what is important to them – and what is not. What might they value and what makes them feel disturbed? Next, we formed hypotheses and verified each of them in discussions with a sample consisting of both, our customers as well as potential interested parties. This was an educational process. Some hypotheses turned out to be correct, while others were just over the top. And some other perspectives we had not even grasped yet. We therefore describe our impressions as a valuable gift from our customers.

The Canvas of Significant Insights

The results of our observations and survey – the described valuable gifts – were depicted on a TCJG Customer Value Proposition Canvas. All findings were first sorted according to “tasks” (customer jobs), “needs” (gains) and “pain” (pains). This process step was extremely clarifying, because it triggered a change of perspective. Above all, an overview over “pain” ensured that ideas for customer-specific solutions could emerge.

Today, valuable gifts from our customers such as these are the foundation for the design of all our services. We verify every idea to see whether it is in line with our clients’ perspective. And we always first focus on the benefits, which our work brings to our customers. And which set us apart from other providers in the long term. This is what we understand by customer centricity.

At our customers I am currently observing an ardent desire towards more customer-centric service processes. Primarily, this transformation aims to increase external brand loyalty. For me, this demand is created by the feeling of uncertainty when being exposed to and forced to deal with rapid changes and developments of the future. If no one can tell how industries such as the automotive, finance or retail sector are going to change, then an individual and strong brand loyalty reduces the risk of losing customers immediately to the most innovative competitors. One of our customers, an international automotive manufacturer of exclusive sports cars, approached us at the beginning of the year, asking if we could develop an innovative management workshop for them. This workshop was supposed to sensitize senior managers for the needs of their customers and to enable them to implement customer-centric processes at their dealership. During the initial needs analysis, we realised quickly that rather a holistic approach is needed to comply with the given strategic goals. From our perspective, it was not only about a one-shot workshop but rather about enabling the dealer staff itself, to question existing processes on one’s own responsibility and subsequently align them with the needs of the customer. From our experience, it would be ideal if ideas for more customer-centric processes are not only developed by individuals with direct customer contact but, moreover, customers get the chance to give feedback on the ideas as well. In addition, the concept we developed should also be applicable to other topics. Therefore, we developed, in collaboration with the customer, a holistic concept of several, consecutive (mini) workshops, that contained valuable components from Design Thinking: a fixed number of employees volunteer to participate at the initial workshop and every participant chooses a tandem partner from the organisation to go jointly on a customer journey. For this journey, the participants receive typical personas with characteristics derived from the customer base. From the viewpoint of these personas, the participants explore the online and offline brand representation of several exclusive brands and own competitors. The findings are brought into the next workshop and based on positive and negative experiences, ideas for implementation at the dealer evolve. In a next step, these ideas are presented to the whole dealer staff and refined by all employees in creative sessions. Shortly after, the best ideas are presented to selected customers to test them on attractiveness, usability and customer orientation. Finally, iterated selected ideas are implemented at the dealership. Unlike familiar process and KPI-oriented measures, this approach was completely new to the organisation and revealed the main challenge: All workshops are not designed to reach a defined goal, but the outcome of the workshop is totally dependent on the intrinsic commitment of the participants. This requires a precise facilitation of the process and all participants need to be constantly motivated to push their own creativity. For pilot testing, we accompanied our client to two European markets to support local adaption of the concept without losing the focus on a consecutive process. We also conducted a Train-the-Facilitator event for market key account manager to impart a new understanding of roles. Moving from a process consultant towards a facilitator who steers a process that enables the participants to question existing processes and align them with the needs of the customer. Changes in the future do not only apply to organisations but are even more relevant on an individual level. We are best prepared to handle upcoming changes by focusing on distinct self-responsibility and self-guidance. Individually and within our organisations. A contribution from:

Andreas Grotekemper Senior Consultant of TCJG

It’s amazing how the Internet of Things is capturing our daily lives more and more. Have you noticed that over the last several years every generation, from primary schoolchildren to retirees, can be observed with their digital companions? I also often catch myself looking at my iPhone to pass the boredom by.

How exciting is it, that the technical developments through the autonomous driving will soon allow us to give up this temptation while driving? Over the last few years, automobile manufacturers have come up with more and more features to better connect vehicles with the digital world. It can be assumed that these “connect” services won’t be used intuitively by every generation, and can be a challenge for some users.

An international, 20-person-strong call center team, is to cover the future support needs of these “connect” services for one of our premium automotive customers. A unique challenge: the team was set up by a supplier and, therefore, served two groups. On one side, the actual employer and, on the other side, the automobile manufacturer, whose brand they should represent to the outside customers. Thus, in a kick-off workshop, it was necessary to communicate not only basic knowledge about the history, strategy and portfolio of the automotive manufacturer, but, most importantly, to create an identification with the brand. The brand values need to be represented by the employee to the customer constantly.

Therefore, it was necessary to develop a suitable concept to inspire the team to connect to the brand. In the development and implementation of this four-day kick-off workshop, I was able to combine many components of my previous professional background: several years of experience in the consultant sector in project and change management, experience as a trainer and facilitator in international projects, as well as, the personal development of people. To see others grow, feel their joy and motivation after a training session, and experience how they want to tackle things, is certainly one of the most rewarding moments in my job.

So how do you unleash the joy of a brand and motivate employees to live up to the brand values in the workplace? Well, I admit, this time it wasn’t very difficult. How could one experience driving a fast sports car on a race track and not be enthusiastic about the brand? Despite all this, we also had to create a transfer, from the exciting experiences with the products to the transition of the brand characteristics to the daily work life of supporting the customer.

The participants were divided into the different brand values and discussed their ideas on how to translate “innovation,” “exclusivity” and other values to personal attitudes, as well as, specific actions. The results yielded astonishing insights into simple ways in which the concept of service can be delivered specifically for this brand.

Therefore, the challenge was successful. My goal was achieved when, after creating the concept and implementing it with the customer, the participants carry out their enthusiasm about the brand in their daily contact with the customer.

I’m also pleased to continue to be involved in the field of classical consulting for implementing international projects, as well as, for personnel diagnostics. Frequently, our clients’ needs require a combination of these different priorities. A guarantee that this job is certainly one thing: never boring.


A contribution from:
Andreas Grotekemper
Senior Consultant der TCJG

Consultant Profile Andreas Grotekemper