Customer-centricity. It’s more than just a buzzword; it’s more than just a platitude.

This concept, while not new, has become one of the most popular topics among today’s business leaders as companies explore ways to increase market momentum, customer share, and new product adoption. The Global Customer Service Barometer survey conducted by American Express found that “just over six in ten customers agree that companies meet their expectations.”

Customer Strategy is the Center of Your Overall Strategy, marketing ops

Make Customers the Center of Your Strategy

Why is this the case? Despite their claims that they keep the customer first, many B2B companies remain product-centric. However, making the shift to focusing on the customer can make all the difference. Perhaps you’ll find Don Pepper’s explanation about difference between customer-centricity and product-centricity useful:

· Product-centricity starts with having a product or service that responds to customer needs and then finding as many customers as possible who have these needs.

· Customer-centricity starts with the individual customer and aims to meet the needs of that customer in as many respects as possible.

Furthermore, research has found that customer-centric companies enjoy greater customer satisfaction. And a Booz Allen study found that businesses that are successful at customer-centricity outperform industry peers two-to-one in revenue growth and generate margins 5%-10% above their competitors.

When you shift to a customer-centric strategy, you are building an organization that holds the informed knowledge of the customer and the marketplace at its core. Your organization is aligned around customer commitments, customer relationships, and enhanced customer knowledge. All of which is power. While your products might be able to be copied and your channels disrupted, how well you know your customers and your market gives you a market advantage. While the transformation from product-centric to customer-centric comes with a cost, the benefits you can reap often far outweigh them. Curious to see transformation in action? Read the Case Study Transforming from Product-Centric to Customer-Centric with a Focus on Accountability  to learn how we helped Winton Global transform from product-centric to customer-centric with a focus on accountability.

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Shift Your Marketing to Focus on Customers

Making the shift to being customer-centric takes deliberate action. It means more than just changing the conversation with your customers. It means changing your Marketing organization from the inside out; especially in four key areas.

1. Customer orientation. Marketing needs to reorient itself to encompass the entire customer lifecycle. To do this, Marketing leaders must create a data-driven, customer-centric culture as well as processes for transforming data into insights.

2. Solutions vs. Selling. A customer-centric transformation means you leave the world of selling “products” for the world of solving problems. This applies to ALL business decisions.

3. Front-line vs. top-down driven. Focus on those who interact directly with your customers every day. This means your Sales, Marketing, and Service personnel who are in the trenches. You need to arm these people with the skills, resources, and authority necessary to manage “moments of truth.”

4. Engineer or reengineer business processes. If you want to transform your Marketing into a Best-in-Class Marketing organization that leverages systems and tools to drive effectiveness and efficiency deliver on growth you’ll need to “bite the bullet” and possibly rework every business process, including your Marketing processes and systems. This often requires establishing a fully functional Marketing Ops organization.

Plan for the Impact of Shifting to Customer-Centric

As you can see, this shift has implications across your organization.  It entails reversing your value chain by starting with your customers’ needs and priorities.  Data, customer data, market data, competitive intelligence, these become the essential raw materials. Some of this data may be at your fingertips and easily accessible. Other data may be buried in your systems. And acquiring some data may require you to execute research that involves surveying prospective customers, conducting focus groups, and creating customer advisory boards.

This approach, however, sets you on the path to identifying the channels that best deliver what your customers need. This may mean you will need to revisit how you go to market and with whom.

Reversing the value chain means you will need to determine the products or services best suited for these channels. Then you will need develop the resources required to deliver the offerings that will ensure value to the customer.

Reverse the value chain to be more customer-centric, marketing ops

Reversing the Value Chain Contrast the different approaches between the traditional and reversed value chain.

Identifying what the customer values needs to take place well before the selling stage. This approach demands that you determine the best strategies to provide value to the customer. In reversing the value chain, the customer’s needs are the factors that guide and drive your business activities.

Companies that successfully reverse the value chain and make the transformation reap a number of rewards; they create more value for their customers, brand and product. Marketing, especially Marketing Operations, plays a major role in the shift.

Marketing Ops: Your Behind the Scenes Wizard for Customer Strategy

Marketing Operations serves as the central nervous system for your Marketing organization. It is the branch of the entire organization that facilitates the planning, performance management, resource management, and tools to support a data-driven customer-centric organization.

So what should your Marketing Ops function provide you with to be able to succeed in all of these areas? At a bare minimum, your Marketing Operations function should help you improve your performance in three primary areas:

  1. Decisions
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Accountability

The capacity of Marketing Ops must expand beyond campaign automation and financial governance to a role that drives alignment, accountability, and agility. This is particularly prevalent if you want a Marketing organization that serves as a value creator. By creating or expanding the Marketing Ops role and skill set, your Marketing organization is better able to meet your C-Suite’s performance expectations.

Use these resources to strengthen your Marketing Ops:

  • Read some How to Guides. We recommend The Role of Marketing Operations in Improving Marketing Performance.
  • Listen to educational recordings. One we would suggest starting with would be the Marketing Ops Technology Summit.
  • Read case studies to learn how a little help allowed companies to make it all happen. Begin with Case Study 38: Making Marketing Relevant to the C-Suite.

Research by Deloitte finds that CEOs expect their Marketing leaders to drive revenue growth, own the customer experience, dig in to data-based insights, operate in real-time, and master metrics that matter. To realize the performance targets of the organization, your leadership team wants Marketing to perform better.

If you’re feeling the pressure to meet these rising performance expectations, it may be time to revisit your Marketing organizations processes, tools, data and analytics, alignment and accountability.

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