Companies that focus on being customer-centric can position themselves better for success than companies that don’t. Research shows that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable, people will spend 17% more for a good experience, and 76% of customers expect businesses to understand their needs.
Dr. Debbie Qaqish, ForbesBook author of From Backroom to Boardroom: Earn Your Seat With Strategic Marketing Operations, says more CEOs and executive teams must figure out how to transform from being product-centric to being customer-centric in a digital world.
“For decades, companies took a product-focused approach,” says Dr. Qaqish, Partner/Chief Strategy Officer of The Pedowitz Group. “Marketing flooded prospects with product messaging and product conversations. Today, some companies are fleeing from this approach. The conversation is about customer problems and how they can be addressed.
“But many companies still struggle to know how to truly make customers the center of their businesses. It’s essential now in our digital world. CEOs need to realize that the customer is in control, and that companies can no longer win on product strategies alone. Business leaders need to create a corporate capability that allows the company to sense and respond to customer changes in real time. They must have actionable customer data and use systems that track smart engagement with the customer.”
Dr. Qaqish uses a customer pyramid model to analyze how company leaders can transform their business from being product-centric to customer-centric:
- Change the mindset. To take on a customer-focused viewpoint, Dr. Qaqish says it’s essential that leaders first want to understand the customer. This could entail sitting in on customer service calls. “To get the entire company on board and engaged requires leadership implementing an action plan, including employees being empowered to make decisions geared toward customer satisfaction,” she says.
- Broaden the skill set. Dr. Qaqish lists four capabilities company leaders and employees need to become customer-centric: tech/data/analytics, marketing, business acumen, and customer knowledge and insights. “The shift to a customer focus is about building a strategic capability as a response to new strategic directions,” she says. “One big change is today’s digital customer. With a few clicks or swipes, the digital customer is firmly in control of their own journey with your company. In response, the company’s capability must include mapping, auditing, and optimizing the customer journey.”
- Sharpen the tool set. “The biggest changes in the tool set involve how technology is purchased, managed, integrated and administered,” Dr. Qaqish says. “The way your marketing technology is stacked is a highly visible indicator of your company’s true intentions regarding a customer-centric focus.” She suggests testing the marketing technology to see if it’s aligned to support and enhance the customer journey. “In the middle of a sheet of paper, draw a picture of your customer’s journey from being a prospect to a repeat buyer,” she says. “List the stages of the journey and note all of your technologies around it. Determine how much they support or enhance the stages of the customer journey. A similar exercise can be conducted with data. List the customer data sources and the type of data generated.”
“The digital age has changed the dynamic of the company-customer relationship, and businesses that don’t prioritize more attentive relationships with their customers will likely struggle,” Dr. Qaqish says.
Dr. Debbie Qaqish is Queen of Revenue Marketing™, a term she coined in 2011. She is ForbesBook author of From Backroom to Boardroom: Earn Your Seat With Strategic Marketing Operations and Partner/Chief Strategy Officer of The Pedowitz Group, where she manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. Passionate about marketing’s new role as a revenue creator and growth driver, Dr. Debbie inspires others to embrace revenue accountability in the customer-driven economy. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years and is a motivational speaker, a columnist for numerous marketing publications, host of Get Real with Revenue Marketing, and teaches an MBA class at The College of William & Mary on Revenue Marketing.