2 Must-Read Takeaways for Brands Looking To Be More Customer-Centric

SAP report pro­vides an in-depth look at the state of brand cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty is wide­ly acknowl­edged to be an end goal for any brand. It’s one of the gold­en rules of mar­ket­ing, and also one of the pil­lars on which momen­tol­ogy is based. How­ev­er, while many seek to adopt cus­tomer cen­tric­i­ty as a cul­ture, prov­ing its val­ue as a rev­enue gen­er­at­ing strat­e­gy is an alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent chal­lenge.

One of the biggest goals for most brands is to be more cus­tomer-cen­tric. It’s one of the gold­en rules of mar­ket­ing, and also one of the pil­lars on which momen­tol­ogy is based. How­ev­er, while many seek to adopt cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty as a cul­ture, prov­ing its val­ue as a rev­enue gen­er­at­ing strat­e­gy is an alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent chal­lenge.

What is the cur­rent state of cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty for lead­ing brands? A sur­vey of more than 300 senior mar­ket­ing exec­u­tives at B2B and B2C orga­ni­za­tions across North Amer­i­ca con­duct­ed by SAP researchers found that 73 per­cent of mar­keters view cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty as “crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of their busi­ness.”

How­ev­er this makes a strik­ing con­trast with the num­ber of mar­keters who say their brands aren’t yet cus­tomer-cen­tric enough. Only 11 per­cent of mar­keters strong­ly agreed with the state­ment that “we excel in deliv­er­ing rel­e­vant, per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences based on cus­tomer insight and ana­lyt­ics.”

Here are some key find­ings from SAP’s report:

  • 73 per­cent of mar­keters view cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty as crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of their busi­ness and role at the com­pa­ny
  • Only 14 per­cent of mar­keters say cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty is ranked high­ly with­in their orga­ni­za­tion.
  • Only 11 per­cent of mar­keters say that their cus­tomers would say cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty is ranked high­ly with­in their orga­ni­za­tion.
  • 66 per­cent of mar­keters say quick response times to cus­tomer requests or com­plaints are core to demon­strat­ing cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty.
  • 22 per­cent of mar­keters high­light­ed peo­ple and exper­tise as a chal­lenge for the busi­ness. With busi­ness­es requir­ing the right tal­ent and the right cul­ture to achieve suc­cess.
  • 52 per­cent of mar­keters say that it is a ‘triple‑P’ com­bi­na­tion of peo­ple, process­es, and plat­forms, that are need­ed to prop­er­ly devel­op, man­age, mea­sure and con­tin­ue the deliv­ery of a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.
  • 47 per­cent say prod­ucts that reflect a customer’s own needs and wants are cen­tral to demon­strat­ing an organization’s cus­tomer focus.
  • 56 per­cent of mar­keters are only “mod­er­ate­ly sat­is­fied with their company’s abil­i­ty to lis­ten and respond to the needs of the cus­tomer”.
  • 20 per­cent of mar­keters say that busi­ness­es as a whole have a com­pre­hen­sive view of engage­ments and touch­points across the stages of the cus­tomer life­cy­cle.
  • 45 per­cent of respon­dents do not have a uni­fied view of the cus­tomer, or a sin­gle ver­sion of cus­tomer truth.
  • 10 per­cent of mar­keters are high­ly con­fi­dent in their organization’s abil­i­ty to lever­age data and turn it into action­able intel­li­gence.

What Does Customer-Centricity Mean For Businesses Today?

When asked what the most impor­tant attrib­ut­es were for brands, as a mea­sure of cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty, a major­i­ty of mar­keters placed great val­ue in hav­ing “a senior man­age­ment team that is com­mit­ted to under­stand­ing the needs and behav­iors of the cus­tomer and mar­ket.”


Also impor­tant for brands is to have a “func­tion­al align­ment and sup­port of a holis­tic cus­tomer expe­ri­ence strat­e­gy”, as well as a cor­po­rate cul­ture that places val­ue on cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty and the respon­si­ble use of data and insights to advance the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.

Ingrid Lind­berg, chief cus­tomer expe­ri­ence offi­cer at Prime Ther­a­peu­tics, spoke of the impor­tance of cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty for her brand:

Cus­tomer cen­tric­i­ty is an ever-mov­ing tar­get based on cus­tomer expec­ta­tions, so it’s always a jour­ney. Although we are excep­tion­al­ly respon­sive, we are still forced to evolve as the def­i­n­i­tion changes. Luck­i­ly, we are agile and able to adapt to those changes quick­ly.”

Personalized Experiences

A key out­put for cus­tomer-cen­tric brands high­light­ed in the study was in the abil­i­ty for brands to deliv­er per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences to build con­nec­tions with cus­tomers on a unique one-to-one basis.

Six­ty-three per­cent of mar­keters agreed that cus­tomer expec­ta­tions for per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences are high­er than ever, but just 5 per­cent felt that their brands are “excelling in the deliv­ery of a data-dri­ven, per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ence.” Twen­ty-eight per­cent of senior mar­keters felt their brands were able to “deliv­er a per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ence, regard­less of chan­nel.”

Engag­ing cus­tomers through a per­son­al­ized, high­ly tar­get­ed approach is key,” said Eri­ka Szy­chows­ki, senior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing at Nine West. “Tai­lored con­tent devel­op­ment and exe­cu­tion are incred­i­bly crit­i­cal to reach­ing cus­tomers today.”

Over­all the sur­vey formed a fas­ci­nat­ing study of the areas which mar­keters felt their brands need­ed to focus on in order to deliv­er cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty. Here’s an overview:


2 Key Takeaways For Brands Looking To Be More Customer-Centric

SAP’s researchers sin­gled out two key take­aways for mar­keters look­ing to tack­le the chal­lenges around cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty for brands.

1. Learn to Capitalize on Customer Engagement Opportunities

Cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty needs prov­able val­ue as a over­ar­ch­ing strat­e­gy for brands. By instill­ing orga­ni­za­tions with the abil­i­ty to cap­i­tal­ize on new prece­dents in cus­tomer engage­ment, and embed­ding core prin­ci­ples of improv­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ences in a com­mit­ted way, orga­ni­za­tions will pave the way to more rapid­ly respond­ing to cus­tomer feed­back, and ulti­mate­ly stay ahead of cus­tomer needs and grow­ing expec­ta­tions.

2. Cross-Functional Partners And Integration Are Critical

Mar­keters were unit­ed in their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of relat­ed core busi­ness func­tions, such cus­tomer ser­vice, sales, and IT, as being the stew­ards of pro­vid­ing an opti­mized cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Rapid response rates, always-on access to prod­ucts, and cus­tomer sup­port is regard­ed as a key com­po­nent of reach­ing long-term cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty goals.

Tell us about the cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty chal­lenges for your brand. Do you agree with the find­ings of SAP’s report?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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