The idea of customer centricity is not new – I’ve been on the bandwagon since 1995 (yikes!), but few firms have successfully made the transition. Why? Well, I think those that have tried and failed either made changes that were so dramatic the organization couldn’t digest them or failed to make changes that were dramatic enough. Easy for me to say!
First off, the move towards customer centricity has to be led from the top, grass roots efforts don’t work. But, even so, the right approach will vary for different companies. A few examples:
- Most aggressive: Best Buy reorganized around key customer segments. The company created five key personas and focused its efforts – everything from merchandising to the channel (both store and Web) experience around those personas.
- Medium aggressive: Starwood created customer centric brands. Starwood was the first hotel group to break from the traditional price-point segmentation model and adopt a lifestyle segmentation scheme. Each brand is positioned around the emotion and experience that the customers it serves crave. I’m not sure what this says about me but I have to admit I’ll take the Heavenly Bed at the Westin any day over the chic trendiness of the W.
- Least aggressive: P&G layered customer initiatives on top of its existing structure. Changing the product-centric legacy of the consumer goods industry will surely be no easy task. But, Proctor & Gamble’s innovative approach was to create a marketing program called Home Made Simple that enables the firm to market across its brands to customers with common needs.