Customer-Led Success Stories - IMD Business School

Customer-Led Success Stories

20 pages
August 2021

Beyond the Book: Introduction to the Series

Some companies are great for customers – not only do they care but they change whole markets to work better for the customers they serve. Think of Amazon, easyJet and Sky. They make things easier and improve what really matters – obvious, surely? They have also enjoyed huge business success, growing and making plenty of money.

The Customer Copernicus answers the question that follows – if it’s obvious and attractive why is it so rare? And then it answers a second question, because Tesco, O2 and Wells Fargo were like this once. Why, having mastered it, would you ever stop? Because all three did, and two ended up in court.

In The Customer Copernicus book we explain how to become and how to stay customer-led, making things better for customers by going first, into uncharted territory. We tell the stories of 18 different organisations who have each become what we call customer pioneers, a shorthand description of the kinds of customer-led successes at the heart of our work.

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A story of customer-led success:


 - IMD Business School

giffgaff takes being customer-led, pioneering innovatively on behalf of customers, to the extreme. For twelve years and counting giffgaff has grown and led in its sector with its outside-in thinking, trusting the community which the business serves and being steered by them to an extraordinary degree. First conceived in April 2009, it launched as an innovative new venture by O2 (by then owned by Telefonica) in the UK with the aim of seeing whether a mobile network inspired by social media and digital collaboration could create value in new and better ways for a segment of the market.

CEO Ash Schofield sums the giffgaff ethos up with one word.“It’s about mutuality,”he says. We believe that giffgaff’s approach epitomises customer-led success. They have been prepared to lead, to believe that they will ultimately succeed if they make things better for their customers (or members as they call them) by listening, trusting and reflecting what matters most to them in the ways they operate.

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The Glasgow Neonatal Unit

 - IMD Business School

This is a story about a policy change in the Neonatal Unit of The Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow. That might sound like a technicality but it’s fundamental, a change in the shared beliefs that guided the way care was provided.

It has seen parents (the customers in this situation, at least the customer group old enough to speak) controversially taking the lead in the treatment and nursing of their premature and sick babies. Despite the perceived risks, this has had a profound positive effect on the lives of the babies, the families and the culture of nursing and care in the unit.

While some changes on the unit are the direct suggestions of parents, the new policy is not a matter of implementing a list of requests. It is a culture of listening to families and understanding what they really value and need from neonatal support, then taking the initiative in providing a radically different form of care by being innovative and by empowering colleagues.

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