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What success strategy drives your company culture? For names like Tesla, Apple, Amazon, Marriott and Salesforce, where reputation and bottom line relies heavily on the experience of the end user, excellence in customer service is a priority.

The good news is you don’t have to be a multi-billion-dollar company to improve your client experience, you can just learn from them. Here are four examples of highly successful companies putting customers first.

Sales and business culture successSalesforce

There was an article earlier this year in Inc. magazine with the fantastic headline: The 1 Word That Saved Salesforce turns from Certain Doom.

Salesforce is a cloud-based company specialising in CRM software and the story is about the decision to become more customer focussed because despite generating huge profits (from $500 million – $2 Billion in a year) it was losing customers in droves. Salesforce knew that acquiring new customers was important, but it was retaining clients that accelerated profits.

They needed to turn their sales strategy around but more than that, it had to be a company-wide culture to ensure success. They decided the only way to fully understand this was stepping into their customers’ shoes, understanding their perspective, understanding what it means for their customers to have success when using their services or products. They called it customer success and created customer success teams. They adopted customer success into their culture for success.

Find out the word that Saved Salesforce turns from Certain Doom here.

Taking on board a customer’s journey and success takes listening and empathy. We recently wrote about how empathy can power a team to success and included 10 ways you can start improving empathy within your team and organisation. Here are three:

  • Be accountable
  • Be respectful
  • Remember it’s everyone’s day

Here’s how Elon Musk and CEO of Gap demonstrated being accountable and respectful of their customer.  

What Elon Musk and the CEO of the GAP have in commonElon Musk and CEO of Gap

Who would have thought Elon Musk, that renowned entrepreneur making leaps and bounds into other dimensions is also known for his canny complaint handling skills? But he is. Back in December 2016, a Tesla (all-electric car) owner complained to Musk on Twitter about how other Tesla drivers were using charging stations as a car park.

Musk responded with “You’re right, this is becoming an issue. Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parking. Will take action”. And six days later, Tesla had implemented a change in user experience with an app that let the driver know the car was almost fully charged, and to ensure a time appropriate collection, drivers would be hit with a $0.40 fee for every minute the car was left in the parking bay after being fully charged.

Musk handled the complaint like the gift it was: to improve and grow. We‘ve written a number times about the ongoing challenge of customer complaints and how to manage them like the gift that they are.  It’s always important to find out more, ask questions, and improve your service and relationships with your colleagues and your customers.

Here’s how Elon Musk has responded to other customer complaints and requests on Twitter.  Yes, that’s right. He frequently uses the social media platform to actively seek out feedback and show his customers that he is listening.

And here’s how The CEO of Gap took a 5-Year-Old’s complaint about the colours and styles of the girl’s collection seriously and personally responded about the actions they were going to take because “Our customers’ comments are very important to us, and they help us create even better products with each season”.

Success culture - Quote Warren Buffet

It’s always good to see companies demonstrating their values and a positive culture from the top down. That’s why we’ve added Marriott to this list.


Understandably, luxury hotel chain, Marriott takes customer care seriously and has a set of core values outlining it:

  • Putting People First
  • Perusing Excellence
  • Embracing Change
  • Acting With Integrity
  • Serving Our World.

We love these core values and discuss them at length here. Not only does it show care for customers, staff and the broader community, but it also provides their teams with guiding principles around their culture for success.


Cultural and business success comes hand in hand when you focus your business on the needs of its people, from customers and employees to suppliers, shareholders and the wider community. The benefits are limitless and it is the only true way to achieve success. 

It doesn’t take much or have to cost much to start implementing or demonstrating listening, empathy, or excellence in customer service. Those 40 character Tweets from Elon Musk for example. They might not say much but they mean a lot.

What’s one small thing you can do today to build your Success Culture through customer service excellence?