Being customer-centric just isn’t good enough
Marketers must go beyond customer-centricity and become ‘customer champions’ according to Joel Harrison, editor-in-chief at B2B Marketing
As marketers and as businesses, the customer should always come first. They should be paramount in our thinking, and drive what we do and how we do it. Too often, though, this simply isn’t the case. Companies are significantly more likely to be sales-focused, product-focused or marketing-focused than they are customer-focused, for the obvious reason that they are inward, rather than outward looking. Meanwhile, marketers are more likely to be campaign-focused, ROI-focused and busy jostling for position in the internal hierarchy.
But in an age where behavioural economics has become part of the lexicon, with buyers who are more savvy and fickle than ever before, customer-centricity is no longer merely an option; it’s become vital.
Most marketers I speak to tacitly agree: but agreement and action are not always the same thing. In many instances, commitment is simply lip service. That has to change.
No-one else is better placed to take the lead on customer-centricity than marketers. Marketing has the remit and responsibility to see the world as the customer sees it, and drive more meaningful and impactful engagements. To ensure this perspective is understood and acted upon, and is inherent in how the organisation behaves, it’s no longer enough for marketers just to be great at communicating with customers: they have to become ‘customer champions’.
That means they must create a depth of insight around the customers’ needs and requirements, and must have the confidence to actively challenge and shape engagement. This will inevitably touch everything the organisation does – it must drive new types of positioning, new styles of communication, new opportunities for interaction, new formats of messaging, all aimed at driving deeper and more resonant relationships.
Becoming a customer champion is not a quick route to success – it is likely to create more challenges and possibly even internal conflicts. But this kind of approach has the potential to transform not only customer behaviour and business success, but also the career of the marketer who is responsible.