Individual, personalized, and tailor-made communication is the be-all and end-all for customer centricity. How can B2B companies ideally proceed and overcome the hurdles that they often set themselves?

“You’ve seen this product, so you might like that one too” – today’s customers expect companies to provide them with tailored services and personalized communication. The user experience of personalized feeds from Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and Co. is becoming the standard. This has always required data that users often do not want to hand over from the company’s point of view. It has long been clear that there is no lack of willingness to share data. The quick click on the declarations of the consent of many hardware and software services shows how willingly consumers are to give them out.

If missing data isn’t the cause of a lack of customer centricity and an insufficient understanding of customer journeys, then what is the reason? It is clear that the personalization of customer dialogue is not a general problem. Rather, the cause can usually be found in the companies themselves.

Real dialogue produces product improvements

Being relevant to customers extends well beyond offering functional products and services. Surveys state that customer focus is a key entrepreneurial success factor. For example, it is important not only to improve communication through personalized addressing and through targeted, analytical measures but also to further develop the services and products offered. Especially in the B2B area, real dialogue with individual customers can improve products in such a way that they are probably more attractive to other customers as well.

Involve all departments in customer centricity

It is often those responsible for marketing who are considered the protagonists of “ customer centricity ” within the company. Also because they fulfill their essential function and control the services and products from the market.

The particular interests of a wide variety of business areas often stand in the way of the efforts of marketing managers or other user-centric company areas to convince those who lag behind or even refuse to collaborate with Customer Insights. In addition, painstakingly gained insights from individual company departments are sometimes reluctant to be shared with colleagues in neighboring departments – the customer’s interests are therefore deliberately or at least negligently sacrificed to one’s own ambitions.

In order for customer focus and personalized customer dialogue to succeed across companies, decision-makers should note the following:

#1: It is important to live customer centricity as a strategy top-down and implement it systematically. At its core, CEOs and managers must mutate into Chief Client Officers who – just as they are committed to their own organization – serve the customers and promote customer-centricity. This must then radiate not only to management, marketing, and customer service but to all employees. All value-added processes must be aligned with customer needs and customer expectations. Not an easy task, especially in the B2B area, where actions are often very product-oriented.

#2: Customer centricity is a matter of attitude and therefore of corporate culture: Activities that do not focus on customers or are even diametrically opposed must be identified and eliminated. Competition between different specialist departments for customer sovereignty must not be accepted and data silos must be torn down.

#3: The technology – when it is used in many companies, there are often still large deficits in knowledge and skills – supports the cultural change and should be accepted as an aid. The combination of information technology and customer experience approaches is one of the central success criteria for the implementation of sustainable digital strategies. Consequently, companies are well advised to build technology stacks and expertise in AI, VR/AR, IoT, social media, data-driven marketing, and conversational interfaces. However, technology should not be established as an end in itself and the approaches must be interlinked.

#4: Data is used to prove or disprove the gut feeling of those responsible so that no stomach ache arises. The American physicist and statistician W. Edwards Deming once said: “In God we trust; all others must bring data”. This guiding principle is considered a mantra in customer centricity. Because dialogues with users form the basis for a permanent, sequential exchange and must therefore be consolidated across all touchpoints and in a central Customer Data Platform (CDP) and accessible to every department.

#5: Only a holistic customer journey strategy leads to individual customer dialogues. Structured forms, an additional WhatsApp chat, or a chatbot that supposedly can answer any question are not enough. Ideally, all touchpoints – from the telephone hotline to the voice application to the service employee – are networked and provide valuable data for dialogue with customers. And the employees then use one and the same data sets and analyzes them at best, exchange information with each other, and keep in touch with the customers at the same time.

one thing is certain:

Dialogic competence is essential and a basic function for gaining customer insights. Customer centricity is only possible and enriches all of the company’s processes if B2B companies succeed in inspiring customers in dialogue and thereby making it clear what advantages and added value the use of the resulting data entails.


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