Overheard: 3 focus areas for customer-centred growth in Asia

At the official launch of Brand Learning’s Singapore office last week, we celebrated with a selection of client leaders, academics, media, associates and friends. During the evening we discussed some of the challenges facing organisations in Asia, and why there has never been a better time for Marketing to step up and lead the customer agenda

The conversation revealed 3 questions of particular focus for organisations who want to deliver customer-centred growth:

  1. We constantly hear about “the age of the customer” and the need to be customer-obsessed – how do we harness digital media to deliver this?

    Customers have always been important, but they haven’t before had such a strong, public, voice. This has hugely increased the amount of influence that they have over companies and brands. In this age of digital communications, customers have much more influence and we ignore them at our peril. However, we also have a gift in being able to connect and collaborate with them in ever-more engaging ways. WeChat is an important channel for APAC marketers, despite some frustrations – and we discussed Lego’s crowd-sourcing of innovation as an example we can learn from. As Lego has stated, “99.9% of the world’s smartest people don’t work for us”. 

    Linked to this is the need to deliver a relevant and motivating experience that will win the hearts and minds of customers. Disney is expert at this, ensuring it delivers “magic moments” at every connection with a guest. The Marketing function cannot deliver this on its own. To deliver a seamless customer experience Marketing must inspire and engage the entire organisation, collaborate cross-functionally, and listen to and engage with customers in real time. This is something that China’s Xiaomi has done really well: they actively engage with their customers via social media, willingly accept their feedback and push out bug fixes, optimisations and additional features in answer to the feedback on a weekly basis. This customer-centred approach has contributed to Xiaomi becoming the fourth largest smartphone brand in China within 3 years of being set up.

  2. How can we be sure that we really are meeting customer needs when so often they can’t articulate what they want?

    It’s not new news that customers can’t articulate their future needs – we only need to look at smartphones and how they have transformed our lives. It would have been practically impossible to foresee how these devices would change how we do even the simplest things, and how indispensable they would become within the 10 years that they have been in existence. So organisations are finding frameworks to bring both foresight and insight into the pulse of business, supported by test and learn approaches to allow them to take more calculated risks and experiment with different scenarios.

  3. How do we develop the key capabilities that Marketing needs to match the pace of change and complexity of this customer age?

    Marketing cannot deliver the customer experience single handed. They need to inspire the entire organisation about the job that needs to be done, and engage teams to deliver it. This means closely collaborating with all functions to ensure that the customer experience with the brand is consistent and that it is delivered seamlessly. So, in addition to achieving functional excellence, Marketers must also develop key leadership skills in order to keep the customer at the heart of the organisation. There was considerable interest in the 4S Marketers: strategist, scientist, story-builder and socialiser, and the new capability framework that Brand Learning has developed to frame the marketing skills talented people require today.

These 3 questions go beyond Asia’s borders – they’re on the lips of leaders across the world. We’re having great conversations about them with people and organisations across industries. Please join in and post a comment below, or on our LinkedIn, Google+ and twitter pages.

You may also be interested in our articles and films on creating a Customer-Centred Organisation


For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s marketing capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly on LinkedIn. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Marketing Capability.

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