Becoming truly customer-centric: 3 key challenges

Many businesses invest heavily in understanding their customers yet struggle to bring that to bear on making the big business decisions. Why?

The road to becoming truly customer-centric is paved with challenges. Allan Chen, Principal in the STRAT7 Advisory Team has applied a critical lens, taking a closer look at the challenges and unpicking ways to overcome them to unlock opportunities for growth.

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Becoming truly customer-centric: 3 key challenges

/1 Being stuck in silos

One of the most common pitfalls is not having the knowledge and data in the right place or working in the right way. Often, data and insights stay contained within their own functions. To really drive the direction, it needs to be reaching all part of the business, including board level.

“We’ve always been actually quite consumer centric. But it all sits at a marketing level in the business… for it to really impact decision making it has to sit at a business level. My real focus at the moment is how do I flip where the resource is spent and where the impact is felt… it needs to be wider.” 

Client view – Head of Insight, Global CPG Business

By the same token, insight teams may not have access to the transactional data or customer services data. Joining the dots and enabling cross-functional teams to work in harmony drives the best outcomes.

Getting to this point is challenging, especially for large organisations with complex organisational structures. Operational transformation is often necessary to achieve true customer-centricity, and the desire and change must come from the top.


2/Suffering lack of buy-in from the top 

Recent data from PWC CEO survey indicates that 64% of companies with a customer-focused CEO are more profitable than their competitors. Yet the customer perspective still struggles to get the air-time it deserves in Board discussions.

Pressure for results means leaders often prioritise short-term profit over building long-term customer relationships. As a result, many businesses overlook customer-centric growth opportunities that have the potential to drive loyalty, satisfaction and profitability.

When customer sentiment is a leading metric you can seize opportunities and respond to change with the right moves — it is key to staying agile and ahead of the curve.

Even building one or two customer metrics into the performance dashboard makes a difference. For example, linking NPS (Net Promoter Score) to performance demonstrates the impact, embedding its value.

“If your customer experience is bad, you start to churn. We put NPS at the very top of our company measures. Once that happened, decisions started to revolve around the customer.” 

Client view – Head of Insight, Global Telecoms Business


3/ Insights not packaged right to get the attention they deserve

To be taken seriously, customer metrics can’t come across as ‘fluffy’. Positioning them as hard evidence, linked to performance is key to getting buy in.

To get customer insights into the boardroom, those handling the data need to be mindful of how they land. Those at the top invariably are time-pressed with a host of competing responsibilities. An 80 page PowerPoint is not going to get cut-through…

For maximum impact, the remit of the insight department should be to drive customer-closeness and bring that perspective onto the business agenda. Those holding the right information need to be compelling storytellers, articulating the value of being customer-driven to key stakeholders. This may require a shift in how things are done, and building capability, but will pay dividends.

Developing a framework of thinking around customer-centricity can guide insight and marketing teams to navigate how their work fits into the bigger picture. This will make it easier to have the right conversations at the right time with business leaders.

“If you can get senior leaders to make decisions with customer/ financial/ people in mind – in that framework. I think that really does help. It’s a signal from senior leaders that the customer is a conscious part of the decision and in every business case you consider across all those branches.”

Client view – Head of Insight, UK Retail Business

What’s stopping your business from becoming customer-centric?

Overcome the barriers and turn the dial towards customer-centricity. You’ll become an insight-led, more profitable organisation, able to respond to customers’ changing preferences in ways that help you stand out.

Our STRAT7 Advisory team can help you assess how customer-centric you are in reality and pull together a powerful blend of technology, human understanding and data science. This will mean solving your specific problems to build your organisation around customer understanding, so you can continually deliver on your customers’ needs and desires.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch.