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By nickjohnson - April 14th, 2013
As part of the run up to the 2013 Incite Summit, we asked 300+ marketing and communications executives about the key issues they see impacting on their roles in 2013.
B2B companies want convergence more than B2Cs
Surprisingly, 93% of B2B companies say they need to do better internal collaboration, compared to 86% of B2Cs. Admittedly, the difference is slight and the result over both business types is emphatic, but B2B respondents with a similar level of desire for convergence is surprising, let alone more desire.
Why surprising? A core pillar of the argument for more convergence is to deliver a more unified voice to the consumer. B2C companies, with more individual consumers, with what tends to be a broader and ‘higher volume’ external communications approach, would seem more naturally pressured by a need for this convergence.
Internal convergence is more important than external convergence
When one talks of ‘convergence’, it is tempting to play with semantics and broaden the term to incorporate ‘customer-centric’ characteristics - and start to look at convergence between the corporate and the consumer - in terms of closer alignment, understanding, product delivery etc.
Considering the rampant popularity of the buzzword ‘customer-centric’, one would assume the passion for this ‘external convergence’ would be significantly higher than the more boring ‘desiloisation’ needed for internal collaboration.
It’s not. Companies view both internal and external collaboration as just as important as each other.
A note on definitions of ‘customer-centricity
One could read these results as a more cautious reading of what ‘customer-centricity’ means for a corporate audience. The ideal espoused by Bob Thompson of Customer Think is of a ‘customer-inspired’ business, which
“Thinks deeply about what customers are trying to accomplish in their business and personal lives, and create new ways to add value before they ask”
But perhaps corporate practitioners’ understanding of ‘customer-centricity’ is lower down Thompson’s “Customer-Centric Pyramid” - at the ‘Customer-Driven’ phase:
“We regularly get customer feedback, prioritize key issues and work to improve customer satisfaction with the products and services we sell, to minimise customer attrition”
Thompson feels that the higher up the pyramid, the better for the business. Again, perhaps this is one assumption too far. What do you think? What is the ideal level of customer-centricity?