// Insights

The 7 hallmarks of a superior customer centric strategy

Sean Johnson
Founding Partner

The need for customer centricity has never been greater.  Teams are allocating for new systems and tools to personalize the customer experience, trying to understand as much as they can about customers as soon as they can.  Being demand-driven throughout marketing, the supply-chain and operations has historically been the goal. But today many brands are finding that won’t cut it.  Customer affinity and loyalty shifts rapidly. Without a strong customer centric strategy in place, brands will see mindshare and wallet-share erode. Large brands will have to figure out how to be market-driven to remain relevant. We believe there are seven critical components to maximizing an organization's customer centric strategy:

1: Be Market-driven.

A recent Accenture study found "in the U.S. market alone, companies are losing $1 trillion in annual revenues to their competitors because they are not consistently relevant enough."

The mandate to become market-driven arises in certain business models where there is a degree of separation between the goods producer and the ultimate consumer. In this instance, your primary customer only continues to pay for your goods if their customer continues to engage and consume your products.  Being market-driven means making it easy to meet customer consumption and brand expectations dynamically.

2: Find out what you do and don’t have.

Look to your largest customers first. They are likely to have tools, systems, and processes in place to help you understand and access more of the resources you’ll need to be successful.  Take inventory of those relationships internally and identify those who would make a great addition to a cross-functional team.  Think of yourself as making a startup whose product is servicing the larger organization with a customer centricity platform.

3: Get to know your "As-Is" state.

What are the historical processes currently in place around understanding what both your initial and end consumers want to buy from you? Get to know them. Understand who owns them. Get to know their "Wish list" (which probably will take a single quick conversation to uncover as they no doubt have it at the ready).  

4: Go on the technical offense with your data strategy.

Ultimately, achieving the goal state of being market-driven is predicated on being able to wield data from many different sources in a number of volumes and varieties. Ultimately, ingesting this much data will take a team experienced in large custom data infrastructure architecture.  Don’t underestimate the importance of this need.  You’re ability to extrapolate and create the market-driven insights you desire will all be a derivative of how well you and your team execute on this step. Craft an intelligent data strategy that will inform your decisions about where to allocate resources, what to focus on, and if the value created through action is, relevant to the goal.

5: Build a team of teams.

This goes back to digital transformation in general.  It’s not that it's difficult to understand conceptually.  The goals are easy to articulate.  The opportunities are probably backlogged and stakeholders are most likely ready to engage. The problem comes down to one simple thing.  It’s hard.  Digital Transformation is hard. You’re building new systems, tools, processes and driving collaborative change that reaches beyond the bounds of your company, into suppliers, customers, and the market.  Why sign up to go it alone? Spread the risk. Get management and technical advisors and operators to help throw some weight around.  The saying “If you want to go fast go alone., and  If you want to go far go together” is true  but never more so in this instance.  Transformation is not a sprint, It’s a marathon. You’ll need a team.

6: Engage marketing to fill insight gaps

A McKinsey study discovered “organizations that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin.”

Getting engagement from marketing leadership will prove invaluable.  It’s quite likely that sales and marketing are already having discussions about purchase behavior from end customers and their alignment with the brands. The fact that you’re trying to understand how to rationalize your demand signal indicates margin slip and brand misalignment, or you learn well from other market participants.

7: Don’t let great tomorrow, get in the way of good enough today.

Get started.  The market and customer preferences are changing as you ready this.  New things are going viral, things are falling completely out of style, and you’re faced with the decision of when to start.  The answer is now. The goal is to build a system of systems that’s dynamic and flexible enough to ingest these customer behaviors, attitudes, and interests to drive strategic sale, marketing, production, and optimization decisions.