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Creating a customer-centric culture at Cin7

by Doug LaBahn
Today we talk with Bronny Jacobsen, Cin7’s incredible Head of People and Culture, to talk about how she’s helping build a customer-centric culture.

Hi Bronny! So, this Customer Volunteer day. What is it, and what’s the thinking behind it?

Customer Volunteer Days are the opportunity for our Cin7 team, twice a year, to get out into our customer's environment and to spend specific time with them really experiencing the day-to-day realities of what those customers go through and how their business operates. The in-depth overview we get is great for relationship-building, and growing understanding for both us and the customer. And from the customer's perspective, it’s additionally helpful because they have the opportunity to have a couple of people hands-on for the day who are  able to help them through any of the little nuances that they may be needing a little bit of help with.

What does success look like? For both Cin7's customers, and Cin7 as a company? 

I think success for the employee and the Cin7 business is that our understanding of the realities of supply chain and inventory management is enhanced, and that some of the lessons learnt along the way can be implemented into our product and as improved customer service. Success also looks like an enhanced relationship between Cin7 and our customers where easy communication exchanges can happen. And then, from our customer's perspective, we’d love them to recognize that Cin7 sees it as important to take the time to deliberately come and find out about their business. We want our customers to really feel valued and listened to more carefully. I think one of the key things for any business is relevance. You simply can't serve a customer well without understanding and knowing them thoroughly.  So this is our way of really getting into their world and getting to know and understand it far better so that we can, in turn, serve them better.

What is it about your role in People and Culture that you think has the biggest impact on our customers?

I've always carried the concept with me that business is about people first, then it's about the product and then it's about the processes. So if you follow that idea through, it's about every person your business connects with, not just your own internal teams. It's about those who supply you and it's about those you serve when you provide a service or a product to them. In every facet, people need to come first. It really goes back to our values, our impact, and how we serve.  We have to care enough to listen in order to understand. And then what happens to the product after that?   Well obviously there’s a direct correlation there, because you shape the product accordingly to fit the needs of the customer.  And then finally, having great process strengthens it all - clear, defined, and always focussed on improvement.  People know what to do and how to do it, and they know the part they play in the whole.  So my role in People and Culture is intrinsically linked to these concepts and this perspective. 

There’s also always a  lot of coaching and building to do within any business.  One of the most energising things about being human is that we never get to the end of learning - there’s always more to understand and always more ways to upskill!  My role facilitates this for our team members and our people-leaders which in turn impacts how we connect and build relationships with our customers.

What is special about working at Cin7, versus other organizations?

At Cin7, there is an openness and an understanding that we need to be nimble, adaptable and high-performing.  We see it as essential that we continue to change and grow - at pace but also with excellence.  There are many organisations that prefer to maintain things as they have always been. They are uncomfortable with change and prefer a slower pace, and in many cases their processes dictate the outcomes, not the customer.

But openness brings with it an opportunity to create a business that is new and different. I think we're building a team of people who understand that and are hungry to grow and change and be in that space. They're not people who are content to get comfortable and stay there.

Even our software is designed for an industry that is ever-changing so if we didn’t also share that  mindset, we simply would not remain relevant. 

When you’re talking to candidates, what do you wish they knew about?

I think what drives many people to a company or a role now is the question, ‘do the values of this business align with my own?’ I think really living and communicating those kinds of things is imperative as we build this business.  We want candidates to connect with us and instantly see who we are, what we care about, how we treat people, what drives our pursuit of something that is not just average.  We want them to see the fun of a dynamic and agile company, with really cohesive yet diverse teams.  And of course we want them to see how they’d be able to fit into our vision.

For many years, I’ve talked about the idea that. “It takes very little to be exceptional”. So many people and businesses in the world are just happy to be average, to just chug along and not stand out, to not take any risks or be exceptional. That’s not who we are. We want to do more than what is expected on every front. These are the things I’d love candidates to know about us!

That’s fantastic. On that note - I recently read a book called 212. It’s named after the boiling point for water in Fahrenheit. The book mentions some astounding effects. For example, if you like horse racing: the Melbourne Cup, the time between first - where you remember the champion's name - and second is one fifth of a second on average over the last 10 years. And, in yachting, the time between winning the America's Cup in first place or being second is 12 seconds, in a race that lasts over an hour. 

Yeah, exactly - often winning the race comes down to a knife-edge - just that one extra thing that the other team didn’t do!  Of course it also comes down to being really well-prepared and focussed and working together towards the goal - but it’s also looking for that opportunity to do just one thing more..  And it’s no different for a business - I always think its fascinating to see a business change from not having that edge of hunger to wanting to do what they do exceptionally - what they can achieve becomes so radically different.  And it's the same with people - everybody's got that spark in them. They just might not have ever been challenged to recognise it, or brave enough to act on it.  But when they do, all of a sudden everything opens up. Every single person can bring their own unique and necessary contribution to the table - no-one is designed to be just a cog in a wheel, and no one is surplus to requirements!

How would you describe the Cin7 Academy? How does our Academy fit in helping our customers succeed in achieving our Cin7 vision? 

I think the Academy gives our customers the ability to self-learn at their own pace. And it's a great resource if they feel that they just need a refresher. They can dip into the Academy to remind themselves how best to do something, or use the resource to help train a new team member. it's a confidence builder as well - you know you've got that resource at your fingertips, so you're not waiting on the end of a phone for someone to help you out. So it allows for a proactive approach, as well as a sense that there's almost a safety net there if they need it.