“Customer Experience is not just about

passion. It is about profitable results.”

~Lior Arussy

Flipping the Pyramid: How to Become Customer-Centric

Posted: Sep 10, 2014 by Dalya Arussy

The USDA’s first Food Pyramid was published in 1992. Its horizontal divisions that stacked food groups illustrated the largest section (bread, cereal, rice & pasta) on the bottom and the smallest group (fats, oils & sweets) on top. This arrangement seems like a good idea until you consider the food group which is recommended to be eaten “sparingly” is placed on the peak of the pyramid, a spot usually reserved for the most important.


In 2005, the USDA reassessed the impression this arrangement was leaving on its viewers and published a new take on the pyramid, eliminating the hierarchy. They came up with the food plate. 

With today’s Food Plate, we are presented with an easier-to-understand display of percentages of food groups. All in an attempt to remedy the misguided hierarchical effect of horizontally stacking different sized boxes within a pyramid shape. 


Lior Arussy, in his book Customer Experience Strategy, presents a varying approach to understanding the organizational pyramid: flip it.

Even though they are two vastly different concepts, food and business, the way people think about importance is pretty much the same. The bottom section holds the most weight, but that’s easily forgotten when you’re always thinking about getting to the peak on top.  

In every organization, the customers fill the largest portion in terms of numbers. However, only in customer-centric companies are they at the top of the pyramid. That is, when the pyramid stands upside-down.

The basic pyramid structure- heaviest section on the bottom- is the most common way of displaying the symbol in various cultures, including business. However, in order to switch to impact performance and really create memorable customer experience, it’s time to transform the way you look at it.

So, how do you flip a pyramid?

  1. Start with the basics. Introduce this simple statement into the office space: “We’re here because a customer needs us.”
  2. Give the customer a face. Rather than keeping the customer as an inanimate object at the base of a massive load, present the customer as a human being.  Objects are easy to ignore or to be careless with. Humans, less so.
  3. Place impact front and center of the agenda. What is the focus of your meetings? Are you highlighting tasks to perform or understanding the impact of given actions on your customers?
  4. Evaluate your company’s mission statement. Do your mission statement and annual reports reflect a desire to appease stockholders or customers?

These are some steps that will bring the customers to the forefront of your mind, or the top of the pyramid. It may be hard to look at the pyramid in this new way, but this is the only way you will be able to transform your organization into a customer-centric culture. 

No need to run it by the USDA. 


Read more on the Strativity blog: 

Georgia on My Mind: What Georgia’s Small Businesses Can Teach Big Corporations

Personalizing the Experience: Lessons From a Coffee Shop

6 World Cup Lessons Applicable to Every Customer Relationship

What Taylor Swift Doesn’t Know She Knows About Customer Experience

The No. 1 Enemy of Customer Experience Transformation

The Journey to Excellence or Excellence as a Journey?

The Top 3 Company Culture Fixes That Don’t Work

A Tale of 2 Companies: Contrasting Customer Experiences