It’s time your company considered decentralisation, if you haven’t already. Companies that move from centralised to decentralised systems tend to perform better competitively, and this helps especially when it comes to aligning and forming a consumer-centric culture.
Speaking at Digital Performance Marketing 2017, Wong Mei Wai, business director at Aspial – Lee Hwa Jewellery, stressed that companies need to move from the organisation centric model, to a more network centric model (essentially from centralised to decentralised systems) in order to break down the silos between the teams.
“In summary, this gives you an idea of what you need to do when it comes to aligning with a consumer centric culture, that you’re building in your organisation,” she said.
Wong, who has been leading global, regional and local brands within the FMCG, retail and service industries in organisations like Unilever, Citibank, Heineken, Fraser & Neave – said in order to ensure decentralisation is successful, marketers need to collaborate and break down the barriers between other departments and their own teams, as well as to ensure that the leaders are on the same page.
With that, marketers will “definitely have more success in mapping out the customer journey and bringing through a consumer-focused culture,” she added.
Several other benefits of decentralisation includes a faster pace in connection, a more open and transparent system, as well as the increasing ability in tapping expertise and sharing of knowledge.
Decentralised organisations definitely bring more speed to market, and speed to market is also directly co-related in many cases, from sales to even profitability, particularly if the marketer works in a multinational company based in for example, Amsterdam.
In such global companies, Wong said marketers could help drive the organisation’s agenda by providing feedback.
“If you’re in a global company in Singapore and Asia, there’s nothing you can really control, because it’s something that’s driven from the headquarter. What marketers can do to drive this is to provide a feedback,” she added.
She also gave the example of Mondelēz International, one of the world's largest snacks companies which had moved for the last four to five months - from a very global structure to a more decentralised structure of regional decision making.
Plus, to drive decentralisation, it is unavoidable for marketing to take on changes in the areas relating to consumers. This will require the collaboration with chief information officers and chief technology officers, who have to come on board with marketing in driving that change. “If you’re driving that alone, you’re not going to be successful. Your data will need to be integrated,” she added.
Meanwhile, as we understand that organisational change is difficult, Wong said those with big egos, hopefully need to be managed by the CEO and focus on resolving changes for the greater good.
Fundamentally, Wong added that:
A change doesn’t need to be driven say, by the marketing director. A change can be driven by a brand manager or even a project manager.
“So in your area of work, where it requires to make that shift to deliver that customer-inspired culture - do stand up and make that change,” she added.
Why we need a customer centric company?
Creating a customer centric culture within an organisation is now a top priority for businesses looking to thrive in today's customer-first world, Wong said.
“The belief in superior service has to be genuine and must be a motivating factor for customer-facing teams,” she added, citing the likes of Starbucks, Amazon, and Zappos which managed to create its customer-oriented cultures and in turn, spur massive growth in spite of ample competition.
Data also shows a focus on cultivating a customer centric culture will put your company ahead of the pack. According to the Customer Experience Index 200 (CEI200), customer centric companies have a higher valuation on average than their competitors.
This is a clear case of forming a customer centric business, Wong said, adding customer centric doesn’t mean customer service. It means that at every single point, the entire organisation shifts towards delivering to the customer.
Besides above, Wong said, working on a front line, such as Aspial, banks or FMCG - one of the key barriers is the red tape employees have to face while serving customers either on e-commerce or in brick-and-mortar stores.
More often than not, red tape can hinder delivery and the execution of that customer centric delivery.
It is vital, Wong said, for marketing team or company leader to understand that,
Speed is very important with all customers particularly with the complexity of the customer journey these days.
This can be solved by responding very quickly and empowering its staff to, for instance, give special deals.
“The companies which I have seen do well competitively are the ones where management understands this and manage clearly across all operations,” Wong added.