Gini Dietrich

Customer-Centric and Customer-Centered Organizations: Which Do You Prefer?

By: Gini Dietrich | October 4, 2010 | 
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Perhaps it’s because we’re working night and day on the beta version of “Project Jack Bauer” (stay tuned for information on that!) or perhaps it’s because we’ve always been in a client service business and I think a lot about ways to make our process even better, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about customer-centric and customer-centered organizations.

Beth Harte and Anna Barcelos describe the difference best during their #IMCChat a few weeks ago: “In a ‘customer-focused’ organization, they provide products and/or services that customers want but do not drive ALL operations around the customer. For example, Apple.  They build products that customers love, but the customers don’t get a say in the functionality of those products. A customer-centric organization puts the customer at the center of the organization (think of a circle with the customer in the middle, then the next circle surrounding the customer circle is the company. It’s not the top-down management chart we are used to).”

We are at a point that we get to decide which business we want to have: Do we want to master neuromarketing and become a brand customers love? Or do we want to give our customers the ability to decide which products and services we offer and which changes to existing offerings we make?

Neuromarketing is fascinating and I’ve been studying it quite a bit all year (the best book I’ve found on the topic is from Patrick Renvoise called Neuromarketing – that is an affiliate link, BTW). It talks about how to understand how your customers make decisions so you can create and market the products and services they will buy. While you take the customer into the creation and marketing process by understanding who they are and how they buy, they don’t actually have a say in what you provide.

The flip side is bringing your customer into the creation and marketing processes. You can do this through crowdsourcing, through customer experience, through better usability and traction in online experiences, and through improved engagement. One of the companies I think does this the best is 360 Connext because they help you put your customer in the middle of your organization and not only give you the good, the bad, and the ugly, but they do it in a way that is constructive and helps you become customer-centric. If anything, it’s worth reading CEO, Jeannie Walters, blog for really smart tips and tools.

So, which organization would you rather buy from? One that is cutting-edge, cool, and always innovative? Or one that constantly asks you what you want from them? Although it would be nearly impossible to drive ALL operations around our customers, I’m leaning toward the latter. But you tell me! It’s really two questions. Which organization is more appealing to you, as a buyer? And, as a professional, would you rather master neuromarketing or customer engagement?

P.S. You can read the entire blog post about the differences between the two organizations from Beth and Anna here.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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