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  • Writer's pictureCathy Thompson

Why being Customer Centric might not be enough

Over the last 15 years business have appropriately shifted from being price and product focused to being 'customer centric', focusing on customer experience and customer relationship management.

A customer centric mindset requires a deep fundamental understanding of customers, based on intelligence (data) combined with contextual qualitative research (2) and a willingness to listen (and more importantly, to act on what you hear).

Companies that put the customer at the heart of their organisation are experiencing an increase in customer lifetime value and a reduction in churn.(1)

Customer centricity recognises that;

1. Every interaction matters:

  • It's more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep an existing one

  • 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience (3)

  • Customer centricity motivates people to recommend your brand

2. Understanding what your customers need and want ensures a smooth user journey: only 9% of customers with a low-effort experience will become disloyal (4)

3. 75% of customers expect to be able to personalize their experiences; being exposed to the right products, experiences, and information at the exact moment of relevance (5)

In an article citing the five top customer centric examples in 2021(6), Wayfair are complimented on managing their user experience; through the use of AI and data to drive hyper personalisation.

L’Oreal are quoted for their pioneering personalised lip colour creator; 'Perso', alongside customisable formulas for foundation and skincare, whilst Hilton are recognised for their excellent mobile app offering a guest honours program and a ‘frictionless experience from booking and pre-stay to on site.'

As more and more organisations get their heads (and more importantly processes and organisational culture) around offering truly customer centric practice, it becomes harder to stand out and differentiate your brand.

Enter the magic ingredients of empathy and imagination.

We want to highlight a shift beyond customer centricity; an opportunity for going that one step further to stay up front and centre in your industry.

Pre 2020, representative of customer focused organisations, many of our clients were busy collecting and making sense of consumer data and using analytics effectively to hone their brand strategy and marketing.

Now, in the post pandemic era and post ‘Big Data’, it is arguably less about ‘customers’ being at the centre, and more about ‘humans’; a subtle but powerful difference.

It's less about the facts & figures, and more about the people hidden behind them.

Fortunately you don’t need a psychology degree to be able to move forwards to meet this challenge. But you do need to find your inner 'empath'; "a person with the (paranormal) ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual"(7).

Empathy is about being able to understand and share the feelings of another; the ‘why behind the buy’.

And then to use that understanding to expand your existing brand strategy beyond the typical Ux experience.

In a survey by The Oval Office in Belgium (8), 5600 European consumers were asked about the relationship between empathy and brands. The results showed that consumers predictably look to a brand to deliver a positive impact on their own customer journey but, significantly, also on "society at large".

It is no longer enough to just focus on your product or service; you also need to demonstrate your willingness to positively contribute to the wider world (your 'Social Value'). The challenge is that you need to do it authentically and that comes from having a business culture where you not only think about your customers as an 'audience', but as people.

As such, the pillars of Brand Empathy (8) are;

Mean It

  • 75% of consumers felt that brand honesty was either important or very important.

Get it

  • 75% felt that it was very important that a brand truly listened to it's customers

Feel it

  • 74% felt it was very important that a brand genuinely cared about its customers

Do it

  • 72% felt it was very important that a brand treated them fairly and understood what they need.

As Kantar’s Insights 2030 investigation into the future of insights have highlighted;

“Future success necessitates a deeper understanding of the journey of people’s lives (…the human experience), not just more data about the customer journey to the store and the ‘what’ clients wanted.

Not only does it feel that using our empathetic skills is the right thing to do, but the results support it.; Oval Office found that empathic brands perform from 2 to 4 times better, depending on the metric; impacting positively and directly on marketing objectives of Consideration, Purchase Intent, Loyalty, Brand Identification and Brand Essence.

Adobe's 2021 Digital Trends Report (9) states that "Empathy is the future of experience. Customer empathy will be used as a differentiator with brands demonstrating knowledge of their customers and the unique ways they can serve them."

Last but certainly not least, in a section on 'Thought Leadership in Brand Strategy', Kantar's Brand Z Global Report 2022 (10) refers to their own 'NeedScope' framework to help categorise 'emotion' as a point of difference in the branding process, alongside 12 universal archetypes with their own personality essence (eg Rebel: 'Rules are meant to be broken', Hero: 'Where there is a will there is a way' etc). Using proven psychological principles, these give brands a strong and very human foundation upon which to build a 'Meaningfully Different' brand positioning.

Next Steps

At Sparkloop, our small and approachable team of designers balance decades of experience with a constant eye on industry insights and developments.

Putting you at the centre of what we do, we encourage and support you in developing a brand that does the same for your customers; facilitating your understanding of who they are, what they feel and what they believe in, and adding it to what you likely already know about what they want and need.

One of our strap lines is that we join the dots.

We do.

But we also go further than that. Adding empathy, creativity and imagination, we work to develop, for you, a brand design and strategy that soars beyond the data and resonates with your consumers on a human level: head, heart & spirit.

Cathy Thompson, Operations Lead: Connect References

7. Oxford Languages online dictionary definition

10. Kantar BrandZ Global Report 2022


Let us help you expand your view beyond the data, for a brand that connects.

Request a Spark-up Session or get in touch to see how we can help.


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