You Don’t Need a CEM/CRM Strategy To Be Customer Centric

Last week I read a (Dutch) post that covered a new white-paper from SAS. The post was titled: “Customer Centricity, still in its infancy”.

After reading the white-paper I concluded (and commented to the post) that it was written completely from the perspective of the solutions SAS has to offer. And that, as a consequence, SAS itself does not get higher on its own Customer Centricity maturity model than the level “self-centric” (being the infancy level).

That statement, of course, was a little harsher than needed, because I think SAS provides some great solutions that many Customers really appreciate. But it was a shot at open goal, I just could not resist ;)

Three elements of Customer Centricity, according to SAS
In the white-paper they presented a model of Customer Centricity shown here.


You can find some explanation in English here. I liked the model at first sight, but was disappointed that “Customer Value” was not about “Value for the Customer” but about “Customer Lifetime Value” (and some newer elements like Referral Value), in other words: Value to the Firm. On top of that, the white-paper consistently talks about improving the Customer experience by making the (the right) Customer (the right) relevant offers (at the right time), by using Customer data-analytics (of course).

Customers do not desire offers
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it whenever prompted: Customers do not desire offers, they desire the benefits they can create with the use of your product and/or service (at a price they feel fair). Hence Customer centric marketing focuses on improving Customer value-in-use, not (just) the Customer journey leading to a transaction.

You do not need A Customer Lifecycle Relationship Management Strategy
I believe one can be extremely Customer centric without having a Customer Lifecycle Management strategy or a Branded Customer Experience strategy, aimed at positively wowing Customers with excellent service (think Zappos-like). CRM and or CEM? You don’t need them per se!

Operational Excellence can be Customer Centric
I maybe wrong here, but Ryanair seems like an excellent example of a company that purely leverages Operational excellence and Cost-Leadership to provide the best service possible for their target Customer segment. That is the segment that wants to get from A to B at the lowest possible price with the highest likelihood of being on time including luggage. And that is the segment that is willing to trade-off all other “frills” for these three benefits.

It’s also a strategy that seems to pay off. In their Q4 2012 report (pdf) they not only report a continuous growth of passengers, and being the number one International airline by number of international flight passengers. They also report a 92 % Customer repurchase and 87 % recommendation intention. (hello!)

And yes, Ryanair knows how to up-sell to their Customers, and they know how to monetize their Customer (data), but they do not try to be excellent at other stuff than what they chose to be excellent at because that matters to their Customers most. And they do care about the experience being designed to differentiate the airline in a positive way from other airlines, just not in a way branded “experientialists” want it to be..

Ryanair loves the Customers who love them, and is that not what Customer Centricity is all about?