Customer-Centricity Roadmap: Destinations on the CDP Journey and Why They Matter


By: The CDPa Team

As we’ve written in previous blog posts, the process of becoming a customer-centric company doesn’t take place overnight. The concept appears simple: realigning a company’s operations to focus on its most valuable customers, driving business outcomes, and financial value in the process. In practice, customer-centricity demands a seismic shift in mindset, strategy, and implementation. For companies that have aligned their business around product or channel strategies, the change to customer-centricity can be overwhelming. But the good news for companies that haven’t yet begun their customer-centric journey is that every step forward will lead to positive results, and other customer-centric success stories offer a clear roadmap for the way forward.

So, what are the stages on the customer-centricity journey? And what actions can data analysts, marketers, and executives take to move up from one rung of the ladder to the next?

Stage 1: Not yet customer-centric

Companies at this stage are just beginning their customer-centric transformation, and gut instinct, channel performance, and “what has worked in the past” drive their decision-making.  These companies think about the customer in terms of personas, and generally have a few loose ideas about who their customers are and what they want. While these companies may collect some customer data, they still need the know-how and strategy to derive insights from that data.

Next step: For these businesses, there’s nowhere to go but up! Even so, an organization-wide initiative is intimidating. A sensible first step for companies beginning their customer-centric journey is to introduce new processes into one function, or a division of the business. Soon, this group will have solid results and the knowledge needed to advocate for customer-centric processes throughout the company. At this point, the organization must begin thinking about how it’s collecting data and standardizing definitions: establishing good practices here will provide an important foundation for long-term growth.

Stage 2: Limited customer-centricity

In the second stage, customer-centric processes are being deployed within individual teams. While there is no overarching, company-wide strategy yet, this is a pivotal moment for companies on their customer-centric journey: employees are gaining valuable experience in using customer insights to drive business outcomes, and they’ll be able to use their early successes to capture the attention of their colleagues. The first adopters of customer-centricity can typically be found in marketing; however, there’s no right or wrong place for the customer data process to begin.

Next step: At this point, customer data is likely siloed, with definitions and analytics systems focused on disparate use cases. To move towards an enterprise-wide approach to customer data, companies should collect their differing datasets in a single customer data platform (CDP). This is the point at which all areas of the organization should begin adopting customer-centric strategies. Early adopters should take the opportunity to educate team leaders and executives on the value of customer-centricity, leveraging their successful use cases as proof points.

As the company’s customer-centric strategy continues to mature, the CDP will play a key role in driving and facilitating the enterprise-wide customer strategy and bringing customer-centric use cases to life.

Stage 3: Aspirational customer-centricity

At this point, companies are beginning to understand the true value of customer-centricity. The early adopters are helping to design an enterprise-level plan for customer data, and leaders in different business areas are highlighting the competitive advantages of customer-centricity, convincing executives of its worth. A CDP is essential by this stage, and it is likely now being used to power specific use cases. As the company’s customer-centric strategy matures, the CDP will play a key role in driving and facilitating the company-wide customer strategy and bringing appropriate use cases to life. 

Next step: The tools are in place, and the business is at a tipping point. Now is the moment at which leaders throughout the organization should begin communicating on how existing processes can be reinvented using customer data. With executives beginning to buy in, now is the time to invest in change management and sponsorship. Customer data and insights should become accessible to all within the company, while company experts should turn their attention to developing data quality and governance programs, all sponsored and led by a senior executive in the company.

Stage 4: Enterprise-Wide customer-centricity

Companies in the fourth stage have moved beyond silos, and customer metrics targets are now set at the enterprise level. Customer-centricity is embraced by company leadership and has strong advocates in the C-suite. The company’s CDP powers an enterprise customer analytics strategy and new processes and applications are being deployed throughout the organization. 

Next step: These companies have almost reached the top. With a strong CDP, customer-driven processes and executive buy-in, the only step left is building the company culture around customer-centricity and data-backed decision-making. Everything from KPIs to job descriptions should become customer-focused as a constant reminder of the organization’s ultimate goal: customer-centricity.

Stage 5: Advanced customer-centricity

These companies use rich insights to drive continuous growth and improvement, and everyone from the CEO to new hires has embraced customer data. Customer initiatives are consolidated into a single program, with the CDP providing the backbone for every application. At this point, customer metrics are equal in value to financial metrics, and talent is recruited and promoted based on their ability to serve the company’s customer-focused mission. 

To learn more about the stages of customer-centricity maturity — and to complete an assessment of your own company’s customer-centricity — revisit our recent Playbook: “Getting Your Customer-Centric Transformation Started”.

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The CDPa Team

The CDPa exists as a forum for people who believe in responsibly using customer insights and data to drive customer-centric growth. Together we elevate the best practices and tools in a space for collaboration to drive personal development and commercial success.

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