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People Come First, Or Do They?


Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Denyse Drummond-Dunn will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 13-15 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

By Denyse Drummond-Dunn, President and Chief Catalyst, C3Centricity

Every year I attend IIeX in Atlanta and Amsterdam. Each time I count down the days to the event with a frenzy of excited anticipation. This is the only place I know where “normal” business people, with curious minds, can hear about the latest new thinking on insight. Yes CES may have the groundbreaking technologies, but it’s IIeX that brings us the more practical inspiration for real change.

In my own small way, I will be a part of this. I will be challenging everyone to think beyond the exciting new technologies. I will be reminding participants that it’s the customers who define a business.

Marketing is mutating and the role of the CMO is changing. This is not (only) due to technology or big data, although these have certainly put additional strain on the profession. No, it’s because the customer too is changing, and faster than ever before. The annual marketing plans are insufficient to capture the risks & challenges we face as a result of this transformation.

Several Global CPG companies, including P&G & Nestle, have moved from marketing to brand building, but I don’t believe this is the answer. From what I have seen, they may have changed the name, but they continue to develop their brands & communications in exactly the same way.

People care about solutions not brands, so brand building won’t get companies any closer to their customers than did marketing. And their demand for immediate gratification means that they won’t tolerate poor service, sub-optimal products or slow responses.

I believe that there is a big change that business needs to embrace today. An imperative for all organisations to speed their journey to increased customer centricity. It’s no longer an option & unfortunately it’s not a destination either. Executives can’t just talk about it, they have to be seen to be placing the consumer at the heart of business.

It still surprises me that companies delay walking the talk of customer centricity. After all, it makes sound financial sense. According to Forrester, businesses that prioritise the customer experience grow three times faster than the S&P index! Know any companies that wouldn’t like that sort of progress?

So what is customer centricity really about? After all, putting the customer at the heart of business sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it’s not, because it involves a culture change and that is the biggest hurdle. Customer centricity needs everyone in the organisation to think customer first in everything they do. Seeing every decision they take from their customers’ perspective. It necessitates exceeding and not just meeting their expectations, handling their complaints more quickly & effectively, and co-creating the future with them. In a word “involving” them in everything that is done.

Businesses today are more transparent than ever. Their customers scrutinise and judge everything they do. Putting the customer first is the only way to build and maintain their trust and advocacy.

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One response to “People Come First, Or Do They?

  1. My favorite way to track the customer experience is using Sticky’s visual engagement platform ( . I can see where my customers look and how they interact with my site. Works like a charm to improve the customer experience!

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Denyse Drummond-Dunn

Denyse Drummond-Dunn

Founder / President & Chief Catalyst, C3Centricity