Customer centric business transformation needs to happen – now!

by Roland Irwin |

Customer centric businesses have transformed the way they think and act. Early adaptors have pioneered what success looks like and how to get there. The results have shown that this transformation will change how our economy and businesses will work in the coming years.

Disruptors are not disruptors anymore. They are now standard in a competitive landscape. New nimble ways of thinking will see some significant industry shifts. Some existing market leaders will thrive and some will wane.

Forrester recently published a report ’The 2016 Top 10 Critical Success Factors to Determine Who Wins and Who Fails in the Age of the Customer‘. They reported that the power is in the hands of the customer and some companies are beginning to adjust by placing the customer at the centre of their strategies and market execution.

The biggest issues for traditional market leaders have been around the speed and magnitude of change.

The sheer magnitude that is required to operate as a customer-obsessed business is often underestimated. It’s difficult and challenging to shift a traditional business. There are a number of companies that have a façade of customer centricity – there are others that have a deep rooted customer centric core that are growing market share.

The speed of change that is required shakes some businesses to their core operating models. Nimble disruptors are relatively free of disparate legacy systems and regulatory hindrances. The ‘fail fast and fail frequently’ mentality is difficult for market leaders to consume.


The Top 10 Critical Success Factors in 2016 are:

  1. Personalisation is the new benchmark

    Customers now expect your business to know them. They expect one-to-one communication that talks directly to them. Customers will gravitate to businesses who know and understand their needs and desires.

    Leaders are leveraging systems of insight to deliver customer insight to marketing automation systems providing both responsive and predictive care.

  2. Small CX thinking will destroy financial results

    Customer Experience (CX) that is only engaged on project basis will only deliver small-scale results. Unilateral Customer Experience (CX) as an overall strategic principle is what is required. How will your customers engage with your brand across all touch points – call centres, website, email, in-store, marketing.

    Leaders are looking across focus areas and how the customer experience delivers holistically and the systems required to execute on these promises.

  3. Who leads matters more in 2016

    Customer centric transformation requires change. Leadership teams will need to adjust to favour digitally savvy executives. CMO’s are best to lead the customer-focused transformation, as they best understand their customer needs and desires.

    Leaders are transforming, CEO down, with a key individual pushing strategies into the rapidly changing market.

  4. Culture is a critical path to business success

    It’s not external marketing that leads to success, it’s internal transformation. Culture is on the critical path to success. Culture fuels change and drives speed and efficiency.

    Leaders are initiating cultural transformation programs to quickly meet the new levels of business agility.

  5. Traditional companies stand up to disruptors

    Disruptors are now the norm. The next big disruptor, the market dominating next “uber” or “airbnb” is launched and funded every minute. Free from legacy systems and processes they are nimble to tackle the problems that face many organisations.

    Leaders are setting up nimble integration platforms that bridge and de-couple legacy systems. Setting up multiple innovation labs, opening API’s and encouraging collaboration - is the direction the leaders are moving.

  6. Loyalty programs focus on participation

    Loyalty programs are loosing their loyalty. The value exchange is viewed to be too heavy in favour of the businesses and not the customer. Customers want engagement, not coupons.

    Leaders allow customers into their business – open up collaboration and allow loyal customers to shape the products and services.

  7. Analytics becomes a key competitive weapon

    Data provides the potential to understand your customers, anticipate the next best offer and gain a competitive advantage.

    Leaders are unlocking the value of their data via algorithms and machine learning, fine tuned to deliver real customer value.

  8. Digital dabbling is a fatal strategy

    Every business is a digital business. Digitally savvy senior leaders are emerging at the C-level and place digital technologies at their core.

    Leaders will embed digital into all parts of their business and synchronise across all customer experiences.

  9. Privacy is moving from niche to value proposition

    On the back of massive global privacy breaches, privacy is no longer a minor concern to customers. As customers awaken to the amount of data that business capture on them they are taking an active engagement into how this is stored and utilised.

    Leaders are using privacy as a differential in the market place to grow market share. Trust in brands is even more paramount.

  10. Operations become the nucleus of value

    It’s a transformation, not a strategy. Like a business’s brand, customer-led thinking needs to be across all aspects of the business, not just the marketing function.

    Leaders are moving or have moved to gain first-mover advantage.


Looking ahead to 2016 the leaders will close the gap between themselves and disruptors, exploiting data and market scale while working at the speed of customers and disruptors. They will tame the legacy systems and regulations and act with nimble customer-obsessed thinking. Leaders will drive customer-centric transformation across their entire business, and align themselves with data and process to act and react to their customer’s needs.

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