Most of us are pretty comfortable with the idea that customer centricity drives great marketing. When you place the needs and wants of the customer at the heart of all you do –content creation, campaign development or creative selection – your efforts will more effective.
Customer-centric marketing allows you to build brands around different market segments, adapting to each demographic or persona’s needs and wants - making it easier to market your products or services in a way that resonates with customers.
Embracing customer-centric marketing
Brands need to address several core competencies to be able to truly embrace customer-centric marketing.
Your number one focus needs to remain on the unique wants, needs and tastes of each market. Narrow and sharpen your focus on your key segments and develop a deep understanding of them. Use your analytics and insights to offer personalised, targeted offerings and to adapt to changes in the market readily.
You can no longer buy customer loyalty through price or product – it’s a positive, seamless and personal experience they’re after. So, in the age of the customer, customer centricity has become paramount - and not just for the marketing department.
Brands have begun to shift their business models to become customer centric because they realise the risks of not doing so. Considering you can potentially lose over a third of your customers after just one bad experience, it’s really a no-brainer.
But to achieve this, customer centricity needs to start at the core of organisations and ripple right through every department. According Gartner, there are 10 habits of customer centric organisations:
Today, a customer-centred focus is a hallmark of most profitable, world-class organisations. What is good for customers tends to be good for business. Not only will you see increased growth and loyalty, but also higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. Staff who feel empowered to deliver stand out customer experiences tend to have better job satisfaction .
Yet, a lot of organisations are still not getting customer centricity right. A recent Harvard Business review article highlighted that although companies have been trying to adopt customer centricity for nearly 20 years now, “only 14 percent of marketers say that customer centricity is a hallmark of their companies, and only 11 percent believe their customers would agree with that characterization.”
Why is a customer focus so hard?
We know a key part of the problem is the volume, speed and variety of customer data flooding in to organisations. It’s overwhelming for most.
Many don’t have the systems and technology to segment and profile customers properly. Others lack the processes and operational capabilities to target them with personalised communications and experiences. (We can’t recommend building skills in these areas enough.)
Functional silos often block the aggregation of data from across the organisation. This makes improvements, experiments and integrations pretty darn challenging to execute on.
But the most common, and perhaps the greatest barrier to customer centricity is culture. Currently, most company cultures remain product-focused or sales-driven and customer centricity is considered a priority only for certain functions, such as marketing.
Like most practices within marketing, you first need to understand the core concepts, develop models/maps that are informed by data and apply them with a continuous learning mindset. These assets should evolve and change over time based on new learning and be visible and relevant across the business.
Customer journey maps and personas are really useful tools for aligning and integrating a business around what matters. Unfortunately, we see businesses invest heavily in the development of these assets and then never revisit them again.
Once you’ve developed your customer personas and journeys, you need to prioritise and review them regularly. Your systems and functions need to support and enable the utilisation of these and other ongoing learnings across all functions.
The organisations that get customer centricity right have strong governance and corporate culture aligned around the customer to deliver connected experiences – ideally with clear-cut ownership of the customer centric model – in order to prioritise and drive continuous improvement.
Company leaders are starting to recognise that culture and strategy go hand in hand. Only when customer centric strategies are supported and advanced by culture will a company realise its true vision.