Back to the basics with customer centricity: listen to your customers

Customer centricity is a key objective for B2B marketers. But what do you do when you get further and further away from your customer? How do you get back to basics of listening to your customer? We talked with Marije Gould, Vice President Marketing at Verint Systems; a large international software company. Verint sells highly complex products: actionable intelligence software and services. We talked with Marije about her enormous challenge to focus on customer centricity.

What was the challenge that led you to focus on customer centricity?

“In the communication with our customers, the biggest problem was we were talking too much about ourselves. We just kept on sending them our product information, without actually asking what they wanted to hear. Our business development team almost only had one-way conversations with our customers: ‘Have you already heard of our product voice of the customer analytics?’ Or: ‘Have you heard about our new back office solution.’ Instead of asking them: ‘What information do you need and where can we help you?’ Marije: “It was definitely time to intervene and to focus on customer centricity”.

How do you go about listening to your customer?

“We had to create a better understanding of our customers. Together with spotONvision we started a buyer persona project to understand our buyers and the buying process: ‘What are their biggest challenges, concerns and goals?’ ‘What information do they need?’ A series of qualitative interviews revealed that we were too busy promoting our own products.”

What have you done to shift to a more customer centric approach?

“We have reversed-engineered our marketing programs. We’ve now designed them to focus on the buyer instead of the product. We considered what information our buyers need and what their interests are, and how we can help. Compare it to everyday life. If you only talk about yourself and show no interest in your interlocutors, they will quickly drop out of the conversation. When we now have conversations with our buyers and customers, we continuously keep their needs in mind. ”

Was it difficult to achieve this ‘culture shift’ within your company?

It was so obvious for everyone to focus more on customer centricity that the board directly agreed to the new strategy. Even the sales team was very enthusiastic: they also wanted to get a better understanding of the buyers and customers and to gain better insight into them. It was very important to align marketing and sales. Are we on the same page when it comes to the buyer and the buying process? When in the buyer journey does sales have contact with the buyer? How do we make the transition from marketing to sales as smoothly as possible? This culture shift is an ongoing and long-term process.

What is your tip for B2B marketing professionals that wish to focus on customer-centric marketing within their organisation?

Keep it simple and don’t bite off more than you can chew. The first step is to listen to your customer.

Watch the full interview with Marije Gould.