Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Customer Centricity - Where Are We Now?

If you've been reading our blog for a while now, you probably know that we are passionate about how companies deal with customers and how sound direct marketing practices can help increase customer satisfaction. The direct marketing industry has been talking about "customer centricity" for over 10 years now. The unfortunate truth, however, is while there is still a whole lot of talking going on, few companies have successfully made the transition.

In an article by Elana Anderson of Forrester Research, Elana points out that in order to effectively make this transition, it must start from the top of the organization -- it cannot be a grass roots effort of well-meaning, forward-thinking marketers. Dang!

Actually, when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. If you don't have buy-in from the top, it will be very difficult to implement a customer-centric marketing approach. The reason why is very simple: it costs money. In order to get to customer-centricity, a company has to blow up their silos, share goals across divisional lines, communicate amongst the various customer touchpoints, and integrate their marketing efforts throughout the company.

Basically, this involves shifting your company paradigm and unfortunately, that ain't cheap. While increasing communications between divisions can be done through corporate edict (sort of), the systems integration, customer data integration, and database technology alignment all tend to come with some pretty hefty pricetags.

The good news is that those corporations who embrace a customer centric philosophy (and do spend the money and efforts to realign their company) will reap the rewards on the back-end. And, the reason that some fail despite their best efforts, is that the plan was not well enough thought out on the front-end, and the pain of going through the transition was just too much to bear.

Elana reports on three different companies in her article that did effectively make the transition, using varying approaches. So, it can be done! How do you start? The bottom line is that your CEO and Board of Directors have to not only be on board, they have to drive the strategy and be present and involved until you reach a successful outcome.

If you'd like some of our pointers on steps towards effective data management and integration, take a look at our White Paper.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love what was said about customer service. It just goes to show that the companies that care about their customer and have good customer service, it will and does pay off. I am a true believer in good customer service! I recently took a customer service survey customer service survey that was pretty neat, you should check it out.