Corporate Eye

Only 1 in 7 Companies are Highly Customer Centric

customersNew research from the Chief Marketing Council (CMO) and SAP reveals that most marketing executives agree on three specific things.

First, nearly 3 out of 4 of them (73%) agree that customer centricity is critical to success for the business and for their own roles.

Second, nearly 9 out of 10 of them (86%) agree that customer centricity is not high for their businesses.

Third, nine out of 10 marketers agree that their customers would not say their businesses are customer centric.

This is bad news and reveals a significant gap in business strategy.

In its Mastering Adaptive Customer Engagements report the CMO Council found that the gap exists due to three core challenges as revealed by the quantitative insights collected from over 300 senior marketing executives and from qualitative interviews with 20 marketers from leading brands like MasterCard, Sony Electronics, SunTrust Bank, Thomson Reuters, Nine West Group, Sears Holdings, Western Union,, and more. Those challenges are:

  • People = 22%
  • Processes = 22%
  • Platforms = 5%

More importantly, 52% of marketers said that their biggest challenge to customer centricity is a combination of all three factors—people, processes, and platforms. Considering that people develop the processes and choose the platforms being used, all roads lead back to people. In other words, employees—including leaders—bear much of the responsibility for keeping companies from being customer centric despite the fact that the majority of leaders believe it’s critical for businesses to be customer centric.

Customer centricity and brand stratetgy go hand-in-hand. Why should consumers believe your brand promise if brand experiences aren’t centered on their wants and needs? In its report, the CMO Council identifies five gaps that marketers are looking to close in order to become more customer centric:

  • Establish a customer-centric company culture
  • Align cross-functional teams to work together
  • Establish processes to track customer experiences
  • Prioritize customer experience strategy
  • Hire the right talent to execute

These are all important steps, but one very important thing is missing—accountability. Creating cultures, aligning teams, tracking process performance, and hiring the right talent will fall flat if every employee—from the top down—isn’t held accountable for living the customer-centric culture and brand promise in every decision that they make on a daily basis. Employees have to be empowered to make decisions that support the company culture of customer centricity at the lowest possible level. In other words, they have to be given the opportunity to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

The full report is available for purchase from the CMO Council. Below is an infographic with highlights from the study.


 Image: Svilen Milev

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.