What you can learn from Adobe about customer culture

Home What you can learn from Adobe about customer culture

Adobe has an employee engagement score of no less than 86%. And with nominations and awards like Forbes’ 100 Best Companies to Work For, Top 100 Most Influential HR Leaders (HR Magazine) and Most In-Demand Workplaces (LinkedIn), it’s safe to say that it has one of the most efficient and appealing cultures out there.

So, on the occasion of my new book “A Diamond in the Rough”, I wanted to zoom in on how its fantastic company culture plays a role in shaping a customer obsessed philosophy.


Celebrate successes

Most companies have an appealing PowerPoint slide on which customer focus or obsession is described as one of its core values. And yet, this intention to be customer centric often fails to materialize into action. The main reason for this inaction is that employees simply do not believe that their managers are sincere. And yet, one of the best ways to motivate employees and make them believe in the customer mission, is actually quite simple.

Did you know that 58% of company employees say that regular positive feedback and appreciation, a simple ‘Thank you!’ or ‘Great job!’ has a very positive impact on their morale? Offering credit to employees who have done something customer-focused simply demonstrates the importance attached to CX. It’s pure logic: celebrate your customer experience successes and the customers will rise in importance.

With its comprehensive employee recognition program, Adobe truly understands the importance of showcasing and rewarding employee contributions to customers. It structurally celebrates employee achievements through peer-to-peer recognition, manager appreciation, and company-wide recognition events. Every year, for instance, it recognizes twelve employees with the peer-to-peer recognition awards program “Adobe Founders’ Award”, to honor those who consistently live and breathe its values (Genuine, Exceptional, Innovative and Involved).

This approach boosts employee morale, reinforces a sense of belonging and appreciation within the organization and puts the customer at the center of all activities. By acknowledging their employees’ efforts, Adobe creates a positive work environment where individuals feel valued and motivated to go the extra mile for their colleagues and the customer. As is described on the company website: “Adobe can only be as successful as its employees are happy to work here, and we recognize that our innovation and financial performance rests its laurels on the people who work here day in and day out”.

Build a community

Companies that manage to build a community of enthusiastic customers have the strongest possible customer loyalty. According to McKinsey, there is also a direct effect on financial results. Brands with a strong community can charge higher prices, have less need for promotions and have lower advertising costs.[1]

Over the past 12 years, Adobe has built a strong “Adobe Support Community” of users. It’s the place where its customers – from beginners to advanced players – can ask questions, connect with like-minded individuals and share creative ideas to learn new workflows or solve challenges.

More recently, it has also (re)launched the “Adobe Community Experts” Program which consists of educators, creatives, freelancers, authors, publishers, bloggers, hobbyists, content creators, and industry influencers. They share their experiences and expertise to guide and inspire their fellow users on the Adobe Support Community. On top of that, they create video tutorials on platforms like YouTube or LinkedIn Learning, help Adobe users in other communities and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or Reddit, and speak or organize industry events, among other activities.

Adobe also empowers Adobe User Groups to allow them to meet in person (regional chapters) and virtually (virtual chapters) in order to network, share ideas and best practices, problem solve and continue to improve their skills and provide ongoing education. These are customer-led groups – like the Adobe Analytics User Groups – intended to help individuals succeed with using Adobe products.

All these endeavors allow its customers to help themselves and build a network of peers to help them become smarter and solve problems. This is one of the best ways to build customer loyalty, by pulling yourself out of the equation as much as you can.

Make the world better

In the past, companies were mainly concerned with their own problems. In some cases, a company may have acted to help their industry, but that was all. Today, companies with great customer cultures affect all types of social issues by expanding their circle of influence beyond their own immediate environment and market. They add value to society in a focused way while remaining as true to their company’s core objectives as possible.

Though Adobe is committed to environmental sustainability with its products and operations, its engagement on a social level that is probably the best fit with its core objectives. That is because it has always taken a people-based approach to business, highly focused on diversity, inclusivity and wellbeing in the workplace.

It has many programs that are aimed at socially empowerment. The Adobe Digital Academy, for instance, offers career switchers the education and experience they need to launch successful careers in user experience (UX) design, data science, software engineering, and digital marketing. The Academy is committed to placing 99% of its program graduates into full-time jobs, whether at Adobe or – this is the really interesting part – other companies.

In India, its six-month SheSparks internship program enables women to successfully transition back to full-time work after a career break, through extensive training, role-specific mentors, a supportive community, and opportunities to grow with high-impact work.

Adobe is also partnering with minority-serving institutions, like Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), offering mentorship and career development opportunities to more than 22,000 students for jobs in tech and creative industries.

It’s pretty clever – and consistent with their core – that most of these social programs are aimed at educating people into roles that are beneficial to Adobe, in an industry that’s pretty cut throat when it comes to talent. And making sure that it has the right inside talent, also has a powerful indirect effect on how it serves its customers. And even if these (re)trained people do not end up working at Adobe, chances are that they will become Adobe customers (consistent with the type of education they received). So this is clearly a win-win situation.

How are you shaping a culture that puts the customer first? Let me know in the comments of my social posts!

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/a-better-way-to-build-a-brand-the-community-flywheel