SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

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Customer Centricity Begins Where a 360-Degree View Ends

While it’s one of the enduring tenets in the CRM market, a 360-degree view of the customer is fundamentally flawed.  Why is that?  Having all the information at your fingertips about any given customer is of little value if you can’t do anything with it to better serve the customer at the point of interaction, across all contact channels and organization silos.

The first wave of CRM software solutions concentrated on delivering a data-centric view of the customer.   That is, pulling all of the information about the customer into a consolidated database to make it available to a customer support rep (CSR).   For today’s customer —whether B2B or B2C— it is not enough to know what products or services they have purchased in the past.  They want you to meet their particular need ‘at the moment of interaction,’ i.e. when they contact you.  Today’s consumers want you to recognize them regardless of channel (e.g., email, phone, web, branch, etc.).  Today’s customers need companies to not only address their problems, but also resolve them.  Now, not later.  

To do this successfully requires rethinking organizational structures and business processes so that the client-facing, front-office systems and the back-office systems become one. This makes it possible to create a case around a given customer inquiry or request, and then automatically fulfill it – without a phone transfer, a trouble ticket routing, or other hand-off that stops short of immediately satisfying the customer’s need.

Customer centricity has been around as a concept for a while.  According to Wikipedia:

 “Customer centricity refers to the orientation of a company to the needs and behaviors of its customers.  Through this approach the customer becomes the central platform from which the organization operates and any decisions taken are viewed from the customer’s point of view.” 

Peter Drucker, one of the foremost management consultants, had a more succinct expression about serving customers that implies customer centricity:  “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”   Only now, enabled by advanced BPM software solutions, can business achieve true customer centricity and finally move beyond the limitations of data-centric software solutions.

Some of the world’s leading companies are already realizing significant returns by adopting a more customer-centric and holistic approach to their business.  For example, Standard Life achieved marketing response rates 35 percent ahead of target.  Farmers Insurance reduced its new small commercial business cycle time from 14 Days down to 14 Minutes.  BB&T created a world-class, multi-channel account opening solution — in just 90 daysOrange UK improved retention, increased profitability, and is transforming the customer experience with centralized decisioning technology.

The Web 2.0 world has prompted a relentless move from command and control organizational structures to more fluid, collaborative and connected organizations that can better serve today’s customer demands.  The evolution from creating a 360-degree view of the customer to building a customer-centric organization is a trend well underway, and likely to accelerate as more companies discover that customer-centric software is enabling a better way to do business.   Organizations such as those noted above who are already adopting this technology have moved several steps ahead of the pack.


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More Stories By Grant Johnson

A dynamic, senior-level technology executive with a proven track record building businesses on a global basis. As Chief Marketing Officer for Pegasystems in Cambridge, MA Johnson is responsible for worldwide marketing strategy and execution. He oversees corporate marketing, field marketing, industry marketing, product marketing, marketing programs, marketing communications, analyst and public relations, and global web strategy. Previously, Johnson was the Vice President of Marketing at Guidance Software (GUID) and Vice President of Marketing and served as an officer for FileNet Corp., a $400+ million enterprise software vendor acquired by IBM in 2006. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Marketing for FrontBridge, an email management vendor acquired by Microsoft. Johnson led the company’s re-naming and re-launch, built the marketing team and delivered integrated marketing programs to support significant and sustained revenue growth. He has also served as Director of Marketing for Symantec, with worldwide responsibility for the Norton brand, and as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ethentica, an enterprise security vendor. Johnson received his bachelor of arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his master’s in business administration from Pepperdine University. He has also published several articles on best practices in high tech marketing and co-authored the book, PowerBranding™

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