What does it mean to be “customer oriented”? Premium

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The best marketing executives combine several qualities. They know how to listen to their customers and teams. They are focused on results. They aim to inspire people rather than trying to sell their product. And they trust their own intuition when it comes to devising the innovations of tomorrow. What are your own natural tendencies? How can you develop the characteristics that you lack? Excerpt from the latest issue of Business Digest:

Customer Concept
1. Listen to your market
Being market driven requires excellent listening skills and empathy in order to understand your customers and represent their interests.
• Leverage the customer’s voice…
Listen to your customers in their environment. Limit the number of focus groups. Go and watch how your customers behave in context, and start conversations instead of shutting yourself off in one-way communication.
• But don’t let yourself get swamped
It is much better to analyze a small amount of data from a restricted but representative customer sample than to venture into big data without knowing how to process and contextualize all the available information.

2. Stay focused on results
Focusing on performance is synonymous with optimizing the ratio between marketing expenditure and results.
• Assess the performance of your marketing initiatives…
Run your marketing activities as though they were a closed-loop business: your investments are only justified if they produce concrete outcomes.
• Without losing sight of your overall operational efficiency
Do not forget operational marketing measures: it is very tempting to simply assess customer commitment (web traffic, number of followers, and so on). Remember to stay focused on more operational measures such as the acquisition of new customers, sales growth, profitability, and so on.

3. Bring customers and employees together
Tell inspiring stories (to your customers and teams) as a way of attracting long-term attention to your offer. This is much more effective than a well-oiled product pitch.
• Inspire your customers
Switch from a portfolio-oriented narrative (our product, service, value proposition, and so on) to a customer-centric narrative: what customers care about, what they aspire to, and so on.
• Inspire your teams
Unite your teams around a common goal: create a feeling of belonging around strong emotions (pride in serving the customer, a sense of duty, and so on). Explain to your teams that they are working on something that is bigger than they are. If your employees are committed and united around a special customer satisfaction target, they will generate collective pressure towards excellence.


Based on Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal (Portfolio, November 2014), “The Best CMOs Combine 4 Leadership Styles” by Jake Sorofman (Harvard Business Review, May 2015); “The Rebirth of the Chief Marketing Officer” by Martin Roll (Insead Knowledge, January 2015); “What Every CEO Should Expect From Their CMO” (SAP, 2013) and the Interview with Kuwat Amad, head of operational marketing at Telkomsel, Indonesia, May 2015.