• Multi-dimensional analysis of customer needs: Although technology provides the best conditions for a holistic customer analysis, project experience shows that many B2B-companies have room for improvement regarding a multi-dimensional customer analysis. Whereas product and service requirements are well-known, there is often a lack of clarity about real customer needs. Even the best CRM systems cannot unfold their full potential if information regarding customer needs is missing. Only if the insights about customer needs are gathered systematically, they can be shared with other departments such as R&D, product management, sales, and marketing to improve the offering and marketing communication.
  • Value-Driven Customer Management: Implementing customer centricity means creating value for the customer (customer value) as well as value for the company (customer equity). The prerequisite for value creation is a deep understanding of the different needs of customers. Therefore, the classical customer segmentation approaches (e.g., according to industries, regions, areas of application, A/B/C) which are applied by many B2B-companies are inadequate and do not provide relevant information. Instead, companies should segment customers according to their needs and supplier requirements. These need-based segments then can be combined with the more classical segmentation approaches which finally leads to a multi-dimensional customer segmentation. Based on the results, it is possible to derive appropriate customer handling strategies and to create relevant added value for the respective customer segment.
  • Value Creation and Value Selling: Many companies do not know their value proposition resp. the benefits they offer to customers. Therefore, they fail to clearly communicate their USP in marketing communication and pitch situations. Instead, they focus on features and functions in their messaging to customers. But these features and functions are often exchangeable and open the door for price discussions. That is why companies should already define and ideally quantify the customer value during the product and service development process. This information enables value selling and marketing communication becomes an additional differentiating factor in the market.
  • Customer-Centric Transformation: Customer centricity is not just a sales- and marketing-related topic. In fact, it affects all business functions which makes a cultural change inevitable. Therefore, the operating model (i.e., structures, processes, IT systems, employee skills) must be adapted accordingly. Otherwise, all measures towards a more customer-centric organisation will remain piecework and there will be no long-term impact on corporate success.

The author of this article Dr. Philine Betz-Werner is referent in the related Leadership Development Program.

Relevant executive education

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