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May 12, 2021

Five minutes on Customer Focus with Chris Armstrong, head of GCO

Our Way is the set of values that are core to Ceridian’s culture and our thinking. In part one of our blog series, Chris Armstrong, head of our Global Customer Organisation (GCO), shares what Customer Focus means to him and how Ceridian embodies this company value as a whole.

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As head of our Global Customer Organisation (GCO), Chris Armstrong is a natural fit to speak to the Our Way value Customer Focus. Here, he sheds light on what it means to him personally, how we live it with our partners, and the role trust plays in putting the customer first. Seventeen years into his career at Ceridian, he also shares the words a customer said to him at the front of his career that he still remembers today.

What does Customer Focus mean to you personally?

I believe it means understanding what’s important to customers not only as leaders within their business, but as people as well. It also means having good, transparent discussions about how we will work with them to achieve mutually beneficial success. Those open, transparent conversations set the foundation for a strong partnership, and – I think – the best avenue for generating real success.

Understanding what customers want as leaders and people – where does that come from?

Early in my career, my approach was really based on outcomes I wanted, not the customer. That’s where I invested my time and energy – until I met a customer from Lubbock, Texas, an owner of a business. John was a straight shooter, and could be really direct, but was genuine. He said, “Look Chris, you’ve got to learn that your avenue to success is by helping me succeed. Work with me on what I’m trying to get done here, and ultimately you’ll benefit.” I’ll never forget that.

That discussion is where I learned the path to exponential success – and professional satisfaction – is to put the customer’s interests ahead of your own and trust the process of working together. 

What role does trust play in that equation?

As I see it, moving forward with trust will always be the right thing to do. That’s how we create healthy teams, healthy relationships, and healthy businesses. And the truth is, no matter what the outcome, doing the right thing is always the right choice. That’s the essence of Customer Focus, really.

What does Customer Focus look like in our partner ecosystem?

Great question – because while our partner relationships are different from customer relationships, many of the same principles exist. We have to focus the investment we make in that partnership as what we do to enable success with the partner. And that comes back around to those open, transparent conversations; comparing where we are in a project against agreements we made about what success looks like and how we measure it. More importantly, are we where the customer expected us to be for them. A good analogy is a three-legged stool: Ceridian, our partner, and our customer. Success really depends on accountability.

You might have come up with a new value: partner focus.

Very much so, and we are so fortunate to have great people at Ceridian working on these partnerships around the globe. Partners are providing critical services for our shared customers. Their success is our success, and the same is true for failure. Good partnerships are about real clarity around roles and responsibilities, what success looks like, and how we measure it.

Is it possible for Customer Focus to be lived within Ceridian, with each other?

Absolutely it is. You see it when things go wrong, and people rally. First and foremost, it’s about getting the customer in the right position to deliver to their customer, which is their employees who are counting on accurate wages, and taxes, benefits, services, you name it. That’s where functional boundaries within the business disappear.

At Ceridian, that might mean you have to call on a counterpart who has no responsibility for fixing the problem you’re dealing with. But they care enough about the customer and the person trying to fix the issue, that they’ll set aside the things they are accountable for in that moment. I see that happen over and over again. There’s a reason our customers appreciate us, and our ability to rally around each other for the customer is one of them.

Those are the moments that make me extraordinarily proud to be part of this organisation.

Ceridian company values

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