Keeping the Customer at the Core of Company Culture

Modern engagement strategies require renewed focus on customer centricity, as companies work to provide personalized experiences that promote loyalty and advocacy.
Customer Experience

For most companies, time isn't just money, as this precious commodity also breeds loyalty and satisfaction. Yet, while today's consumers seek highly relevant, personalized brand experiences, many organizations still haven't established the customer-centric culture necessary to meet demands and facilitate engagement.

The CMO Council's recent "Mastering Adaptive Customer Engagements" report conducted in partnership with SAP, specifically looks into how marketing leaders are generating business performance across the customer-centric enterprise and how said strategies translate into increased consumer satisfaction.

"Today, customers drive and define the channels they choose to use and what experiences are most valued as part of their self-discovered customer journeys," saysJamie Anderson, global vice president, product marketing, customer engagement solutions at SAP."In a fragmented landscape where none of these journeys are identical, it's up to marketers to develop engagement strategies that keep up."

The survey polled 319 senior marketing executives from B2B and B2C organizations across North America to explore precisely how companies are building an internal culture that puts the customer at the core of all subsequent business practices.

Overall, this study reveals both the primary attributes that define customer centricity, as well as the strategies that require additional work to achieve such levels of service:

The Top 3 Characteristics of Customer Centricity

  1. Senior management committed to understanding the needs of the customer and market
  2. Functional alignment and support of a holistic customer experience strategy
  3. Corporate culture that places customer satisfaction above all else

The Top 5 Gaps Marketers Are Looking to Close

  1. Establishing a customer-centric culture that values experience strategy (51 percent)
  2. Aligning cross-functional teams to work together (38 percent)
  3. Developing processes to track customer experience and business goals (34 percent)
  4. Prioritizing customer experience strategy and process (31 percent)
  5. Hiring the right talent needed to execute (25 percent)

The following statistics examine how companies currently perceive customer centricity and the tactics that must be nurtured for an optimal experience:

  • Overall, 73 percent of marketers view customer centricity as critical to the success of their businesses and role at the company. However, only 14 percent believe customer centricity ranks high within their organizations, and only 11 percent claim their customers would agree with this statement.
  • According to those surveyed, quick customer complaint response times (66 percent), products that reflect customers' wants and needs (47 percent), and always-on access to products, account details, profile information, and customer support (36 percent) reside at the core of customer centricity.
  • While 25 percent of companies currently have a formal customer experience strategy in place, 35 percent say their strategy is in development, and 34 percent have yet to create this formalized, centralized view.
  • Twelve percent of respondents claim that functional teams are strongly aligned around their holistic customer experience strategy, yet 45 percent have no enterprisewide view of the customer whatsoever.
  • Though marketers oftencite people (22 percent), processes (22 percent), or platforms (5 percent) as their primary challenges, 52 percent say it's a combination of all three factors that poses the biggest threat to their ability to develop, manage, measure, and continue successful delivery of the customer experience.
  • Of those marketers polled, 56 percent are moderately satisfied with their company's ability to listen and respond to the needs of the consumer, with only 20 percent having a comprehensive view of engagement and touchpoints across all stages of the customer lifecycle.
  • Only 10 percent of respondents are highly confident that their organization has the ability to leverage data and turn said information into actionable intelligence.

Key takeaway: Of those surveyed, 28 percent agree that, by delivering personalized, data-driven experiences, customers have repaid the company not only in revenue, but also in advocacy. Yet, while many recognize that such strategies are more lucrative than business-centric tactics, most admit that they lack the right data, talent, and tools necessary to deliver these intimate exchanges.

"For today's organizations, customer centricity is a key differentiator and business performance optimizer," Anderson adds. "To deliver the world-class customer experiences today's consumers expect and deserve, businesses must embrace the need to transform their people, platforms, and processes to become truly customer-intuitive organizations."

Ideally, companies should work to develop their unified view of the customer so the entire organization may access and enhance this profile as they continuously react to the shift in consumer wants and needs. But, to succeed, organizations must, first and foremost, improve their listening skills. Many fail to listen to the customer's voice, thereby neglecting to leverage myriad channels to learn behaviors and preferences. Without said skills in place, companies will not be able to properly engage, ultimately undermining their customer-centric efforts and strategies.