How to Prioritise your Customer: The Ins and Outs of Being Customer-Centric

By Kath Pay

At the recent Email Innovations Summit in London, Holistic’s CEO, Kath Pay had the pleasure of chairing a panel discussing “How to Prioritise your Customer – The Ins and Outs of Being Customer-Centric.” She led an impressive team of panellists, consisting of Marketing and CRM heads from Microsoft, Arsenal Football Club and Secret Escapes.

four people sitting before a screen

If you missed it, don’t worry, here’s your chance to get their unique perspective on how each of their brands define and implement the concept of being customer-centric.

Adrian Mandipe, CRM, Campaign & Data Analyst, Arsenal Football Club

Just as Nicolaus Copernicus introduced the heliocentric model of the universe in 1543, despite all we now know about the universe, there still remains even more that we don’t know. Such is my take on the concept of customer centricity in email marketing, it’s a journey not a destination.

We began this journey about 4 years ago with an investment in CRM, more specifically, to develop a single view of the customer in which the customer is at the centre of it all, to allow the business to understand interactions better, optimise engagement, drive incremental value. For us, I believe the architectural investment was the first manifestation of the journey but needless to say, preparation for that journey began before that with getting buy in from stakeholders, the board, mobilising resources and investment etc.

Amongst other things, the focus on customer centricity has allowed us to develop communication strategies that vary the approach, images, content, tone of voice using the segmentation output. Our analysis deeper than ever before, we’ve been able to power web content specific to the different segmentation profile for our recognised visitors and really drive home our core CRM principles.

Dan Hamilton, Senior Marketing Manager, Microsoft

Achieving customer-centricity at Microsoft (or customer obsession as we call it) is at the heart of everything we do. Here’s some of the key focus areas within marketing.

  • Be Self-Aware: understanding what messaging goes into market is key to presenting a holistic view of your brand to your customers. Addressing this is one challenge but even acknowledging it can be difficult, so businesses need to start by being self-aware of how they show up. Map out all through-the-line activities and campaigns and see what your customers or prospects see.
  • Use real customer insight: data-driven decisions are the foundations of good marketing but if you only look at your own customers responding to your own marketing, you’ll never know what you don’t know! Look for every opportunity to capture and use real customer feedback and insight into your products, services and marketing.
  • Create a customer narrative: We can’t change our business goals as marketers but we can look for the synergies across all of these business priorities to create themes and campaigns that address customer needs or challenges in compelling and creative ways. Your products ladder up to the solutions, which address customer challenges, which are then made relevant and compelling for the market in your GTM campaigns.
  • Be relevant or become relevant: it’s easy to think customers want what you have but that’s only true when they recognise (and trust) you as someone who is best placed to solve their particular problem. 3rd party and influencer partnerships are a great way to build relevance for your brand with new or un-engaged audiences
  • Your customer decides their journey, not you: it’s a seductive trap to think of the customer journey as linear but it’s not in the modern digital age. Marketing campaigns with defined objectives and timelines can be linear but you must also have a digital and physical ecosystem that allows customers to enter into your world wherever they see fit and guides them on to the next stages of their journey, not yours.
  • Transform customers into fans: a customer buys your products and services as, and when they need them. Turn them into an advocate and they will market your brand and your services for you in one of the most credible ways possible. Build, nurture and reward communities that are fans of what you do and how you do it.
  • Customer-obsession starts from  the top: like all effective cultural change in businesses it needs to start right at the top. Make sure you have an exec sponsor (ideally the CEO/MD) who owns your customer-obsession directive and sets some very simple and clear goals for everyone in the business (e.g. everyone to meet a customer(s) at least once a quarter or every meeting starts with a 5 minute customer insight/feedback discussion, etc). And it needs to be everyone. No team or department is exempt. In fact, some of the best ideas come from those areas not traditionally involved with the customer!

Ollie Miles, Global Head of CRM, secret Escapes

For Secret Escapes, being customer-centric means putting the customer’s needs and wants at the centre of every decision. Will this make it a better experience for them?

In its simplest form, this is embodied by speaking to customers regularly and creating a feedback loop. Whether it’s regular surveying and research sessions, or as simple as testing to ensure your customers are being heard and influencing your business decisions. The feedback obtained should be harnessed to improve your products and marketing, making it easier for the customer to achieve their goals.

In its more sophisticated forms, customer centricity can mean using bespoke language and custom experiences for each type of customer in each lifecycle stage to increase their lifetime value. Secret Escapes have always relied on customer feedback to improve the quality of hotels we feature, but has also evolved to use individual level personalisation to improve product discovery and customer experience.


Interested in finding out more? Check out how the awesome team at Holistic Email Marketing can help take your email programme to the next level.