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Winning Customer Centricity: Interview with Denyse Drummond-Dunn
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Insight Middle East and Africa is delighted to speak to Denyse Drummond-Dunn, founder, president and chief catalyst of C3Centricity and the author of “Winning Customer Centricity”, a must-read book for business executives looking to build truly customer-centric organizations.

Denyse, please tell us about yourself and C3Centricity.

Although I now run a consultancy, I have spent most of my career on the client side, working for some of the best consumer goods companies around, including Nestle, Philip Morris International and Gillette (now a part of P&G). I left my last position as Global Head of Consumer Excellence to start C3Centricity five years ago, because I saw so many organizations struggling to deliver on the customer centricity front.

What is your definition of customer centricity? Why is it so important?

For me, customer centricity is all about putting the customer (consumer, client, or however you define the people who buy your products and services) at the heart of your business. This means thinking customer first in everything you do. Customer centricity is important because it is the only way to guarantee that you will satisfy and hopefully delight your customers and grow your business. Research conducted by Forrester and reported in their “Business Impact of CEX” shows that companies that put customer centricity as one of their top objectives grew three times faster than the S&P Index and more than six times faster than those companies that didn’t.

What inspired you to write “Winning Customer Centricity”?

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Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of Your Business-One Day at a Time

I wrote the book to help every organization become more customer centric. Having been in the corporate world for so long, I realized that to be successful, this business book had to be in a different format. We all have too much to do and with the internet, too much to read too. I remember having so many books on my office shelves that I had not read at all or, perhaps, had only skimmed through. I had rarely gleaned any ideas from them, so I almost never got the chance to implement them. I therefore wanted to ensure that my book was attractive and fun to read, and above all, actionable.

“Winning Customer Centricity” has fifty chapters that are just two pages each. Every chapter starts with an inspiring quote and a cute cartoon, each one drawn specifically for the book. There is an objective for the week, suggested actions and then examples and ideas from some of the best organizations around, just in case you’re not sure of what to do. It can be quickly read during a coffee or lunch break, and you are then ready to immediately make changes in your company and move towards improved customer centricity.

Who would benefit most from reading “Winning Customer Centricity”?

“Winning Customer Centricity” is designed to help anyone who wants to improve the customer centricity aspect of their company. From the board-level executive down to junior marketing or market researchers, everyone can gain a lot from reading even just a few pages.

In your book, you discuss four ultimate areas that most companies need to change. These include company structure and vision, knowledge about customers, products and services, as well as internal processes. Please tell us more about each of these and why they matter.

The four sections were designed to cover the four main areas where a company needs to change when introducing a customer-centric approach to everything they do. From appointing someone to champion the initiative to better understanding your customers, your journey to customer centricity will impact not only the products and services you offer, but also the internal processes you use to develop, communicate and sell them.

The customer section covers how to choose your target audience and how to connect with them so that you fully understand them.

The second section is all about the company and how to incorporate the customer into its vision and strategy so that the customer becomes the heart of the organization.

The third section includes brand-related topics such as innovation and metrics to follow its development.

And the last section covers the important areas wherein information can be turned into knowledge and understanding and then insight. It also covers how and why it is important to share these across the organization, so that there is an increase in ROI in your information investments.

Each of the four sections ends with a short evaluation of how well you have done on each of the topics in that portion of the book. These serve as a useful reminder of what could still be improved, as well as a baseline score that can be referred to in the future.

What are the key steps for building a truly customer-centric organization?

There are fifty of them, all detailed in the book, and they are all important to developing a customer-centric culture. If there is one key idea that is repeated across all chapters, it is to think customer first in everything you do. Taking the customer’s perspective and reviewing every decision taken from their point of view will take you a long way towards customer centricity.

This will also stop you from being tempted to engage in practices that are occasionally practiced at many organizations, such as reducing pack content without informing the consumer and thus hiding a price increase, or asking for credit card details for a “free” trial in the hope that the customer forgets to cancel and you can then charge them for the full purchase. Neither of these behaviors is customer centric and no company who thinks customer first would engage in them.

Many executives recognize the importance of putting customers at the center of their organizations’ strategies, and yet few companies succeed on their journey to customer-centricity excellence. Why is it the case? What challenges do companies face? How can they overcome them?

I think it’s because they don’t know where or how to start. They may also see it as just another project that needs to be completed within a specified time.

Customer centricity is a journey and not a destination. The customer is constantly changing and therefore businesses must constantly adapt their practices to continue to satisfy their changing needs and desires.

Future scenario planning is essential in order to be prepared for all possible risks and challenges a company may face in the future. Scenario building is one of my passions, and I get so frustrated when I see companies that are satisfied with following trends alone. Trend following never provided any company with a competitive advantage and never will, because everyone is doing it.

To become truly customer-centric, organizations need a customer champion. In your view, who can effectively lead customer centricity efforts in an organization?

The ideal candidate for such an initiative is the CEO. His job is to think about people after all—his employees and also his shareholders and customers. If this is not possible, then either another executive board member or a new CCO (Chief Customer Officer) position must be opened up. The third option would be to rope in the department that knows the most about customers already to lead, namely marketing services or insight.

Whoever leads the initiative, it is vital that everyone in the organization clearly understands their role in pleasing the customer. Everyone has a part to play. Whether they interact directly with the customer or not, they need to understand that their role is important in satisfying the customer and therefore also in the ultimate success of the organization.

Where can our readers buy “Winning Customer Centricity”?

“Winning Customer Centricity” is available at all good bookstores as well as with all major online retailers. It is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audiobook formats. This way, everyone can purchase their preferred format.

How can our readers learn more about the training programs and consulting services that C3Centricity offers?

The website provides a summary of what I can offer, but since I don’t like to provide simple off-the-shelf solutions, the best plan would be to contact me to discuss your specific needs. All training and advisory services will be developed precisely for each client. With such a personalized service, it is clear that I only work with a few clients at a time, to ensure I am always available for them, where and when they need support.

I do have a number of specialized partners around the world who support me in certain areas such as communications, big data analysis, facial coding and eye tracking. They are all boutique suppliers who are global experts in these areas, so readers may never find them on their own. We like to say they are the best kept secrets in market research and insight!


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Denyse Drummond-Dunn is the  founder, president and chief catalyst of C3Centricity and the author of “Winning Customer Centricity