MTM: True Customer-Centricity

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David Hood, the Chair of the Chartered Institute of MarketingÂ?s Technology group Â? CIMTech International, and co-organiser of the CIMTech 2005 conference at the IDMF, believes that customer-centricity is a journey and it comes before you can manage total marketing...

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“The concept of customer-centricity is an easy one to understand for the owner-manager of an SME; they know how many of their products and services each customer buys, they design their IT systems to suit the customer and not themselves, and they appreciate that a customer might want to contact them in a variety of ways and still get the same good service”, says Darren Whitehead, Exhibition Director of The International Direct Marketing Fair (IDMF).

The problem, he explains, is that too many of the larger organisations design their systems around themselves and expect the customer to conform to them. “Examples of this are the “press one, press two” telephone (IVR) menus, help and support by email only, and confusing billing processes”; he says and adds:

“Product suppliers in particular are operating in an extremely competitive environment and often, the only differentiator is the standard of service. Our customers are living in an “on-demand” age and it’s only by making our organisations more customer-centric that we can meet their expectations.”

David Hood, the Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Technology group – CIMTech International, and co-organiser of the CIMTech 2005 conference at the IDMF, believes that customer-centricity is a journey and it comes before you can manage total marketing. MTM – managing total marketing, the theme of the 3-day conference, is about what you need to do along the way to keep your company or organisation on track. The customer, he explains, is not the destination, because customers and markets will always change. Yet the customer and his or her needs and expectations should constantly be at the focal point of customer-centricity. That position does not and should not waver. Change requires constant improvement, but only change that is going to increase your Return on Investment (ROI) and profitability, and can increase your customer-facing performance.

“How much time is spent profit-making, managing the customer-centric time and effort where these activities aren’t currently directly connected to profit (especially marketing – never connected directly to profit)?” He asks.

Furthermore, if you are truly a customer-centric organisation, you will literally live and breathe your customers’ needs. Every activity should be tuned into making profit for all stakeholders, particularly customers, by maximising the benefits available to them throughout the delivery and post-delivery processes. That means you have to work towards improving the ‘life’ of the individual or organisation, and this also requires a system of needs and business improvement prioritisation across the supply and value chain. So, Hood explains, you first of all must undertake a needs definition analysis of both your organisation and customers. The next step is to ascertain which activities are going to have a greater impact on ROI for all of your stakeholders, which activities are necessary and in what order they must be achieved according to their potential impact and benefits.

It is hard to orientate your company around the customer, there are bound to be so many conflicting needs and that is why it is essential to understand which activities will provide the most benefits. “It ain't just structure that needs changing or improving – it’s culture too”, says Hood who says that MTM is a kind of trend, not yet linked to good corporate governance because he believes that follows customer-centricity. Finance is not the leader, because marketing has to be the engine of the train on the journey. However, everything that’s possible to meaningfully measure should be measured with the right metrics.

Even though many claim to be customer-centric, all too many companies have lost sight of the customer. That’s even though there are an increasing number of opportunities to communicate with the customer, while the Data Protection Act empowers customers to choose who they wish to communicate with. Yet to many companies? the DPA will present some dilemmas, making it harder to reach out to new customers: how do you attract new customers if you cannot proactively initiate the communication process? The law, although welcomed in many respects because it demands the adoption of best practices, could mean that companies become more and more passive. Yet it opens the floodgates for permission-based marketing, which Hood believes has come of age. The customer can once again become the focal point of your marketing activities, and customer-centricity should release the means for good corporate governance: e.g. accept social responsibility for your activities, because companies can only do bad things for so long before the customer reacts against them.

So measure not just inside your company, measure the customer too. Customer-centricity has to enhance the value of the relationship to create a win-win situation otherwise it isn’t customer-centricity. The question is: how are you going to become customer-centric? Value like customer-centricity, admits Hood, is just a buzzword unless you measure it against real customer-centricity to maximise your ROI output. You cannot otherwise claim, and so many do, to be a customer-centric organisation. So to be customer-centric, you need to manage your total marketing – taking a broader, holistic approach to profit and strategy-making.

About Reed Exhibitions and the IDMF

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s largest organiser of business-to-business exhibitions, delivering business contacts across a wide range of industry sectors. The International Direct Marketing Fair, now in its 27th year, is Europe’s biggest event dedicated to direct and interactive marketing. This year’s show, from 22-24 February, will include products and services from hundreds of exhibitors, each one focussed on enabling an organisation to communicate with its customers and potential customers in a direct and meaningful way.

About CIMTech and David Hood

David Hood is a specialist in strategic marketing and business improvement and is currently Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's Technology group with a professional membership of over 60,000.

David has spent 25 years in industry, ranging from medical sciences, environmental services to specialist electronics and latterly in providing new marketing and profit improvement processes to the technology-led sectors and in the use of technology in improvement to marketing, profit and corporate governance. He developed the CIMTech '10 Ps of Modern Marketing and 'is leading the CIMTech campaign to prove and improve marketing's ROI to the any organisation and instill a profit-and-priority-based approach to any business improvement.

David's main drivers are the need for relevant professional CPD, the need to enhance the ability of organisations to prioritise opportunities and alternative improvement options, and the benefit of providing cross-discipline 'personal and corporate CPD' that recognises that no discipline is totally exclusive.

Further details about CIMTech 2005 – Managing Total Marketing

A three day conference addressing the burning issues confronting Marketers, Business Managers and all those who are striving to realise real rewards from introducing new technologies and improvements, to increase competitiveness and profitability.

Geared to inject change into marketing by offering a complete picture of modern marketing in an age of unparalleled change driven by the adoption of new technologies.

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