LONDON: As the media landscape fragments and consumers face more choice than ever before, one of the few remaining ways for brands to stand out is to make themselves as customer-centric as possible, a leading marketer proposes.

In a Warc Best Practice paper, How to develop a customer-centric organisation, Jonathan Earle, Commercial Marketing Director at Dixons Carphone, says "customer-centric companies are data-centric companies".

"Being customer-centric involves knowing your customers better than anyone else does coupled with a very clear raison d'être as to why you are in business. When both are in sync, the benefits multiply," he explains.

Key to becoming a customer-centric organisation – indeed, the foundation of customer centricity, Earle states – is to make the most effective use of customer data.

Customer insight and foresight are the biggest drivers of competitive advantage, he says, and marketers are advised to combine different data sources, such as online browsing history or customer complaints, with third party data to create a single view of the customer.

With the correct data gathered in a timely manner, brands can gain significant benefits, such as optimising marketing spend, attracting the right customers, reducing customer dissatisfaction and enhancing management information.

While Earle emphasises the importance of the smart use of data to help brands develop a customer-centric approach, he also outlines six other essential steps for brands to achieve success.

Having a clear purpose drives the customer-centric agenda, he says, while mapping the customer journey – a relatively simple process – is also important.

Brands should also ensure they design a customer-centric model for all new launches of products and services, and Earle further provides a five-stage process for how that model should be executed.

His fifth piece of advice for brands covers the development of a series of customer experience principles for all staff who interact with customers, while effective brand communication should focus on the insights that customer data provides.

"Too many organisations revert their TV advertising to the lowest common denominator – price," Earle says. "Ultimately, only one brand can be the price champion and it is too easy to be undercut by organisations that have bigger pockets."

Finally, Earle makes clear that customer-centric values must permeate throughout the entire organisation, and that requires commitment at the board level.

He says: "The board should spend as much time talking commercials as listening to customers, whether that be on social, reviewing and continually improving customer complaints and understanding existing pain points for staff and customers."

Data sourced from Warc