Russell Reynolds’ Findings on Customer-Centricity

Technology and InnovationCustomer Focused GrowthBoard and CEO AdvisoryMarketing, Sales, and StrategyExecutive Search
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September 11, 2019
7 min read
Technology and InnovationCustomer Focused GrowthBoard and CEO AdvisoryMarketing, Sales, and StrategyExecutive Search
Executive Summary
​Russell Reynolds Associates distributed a survey to over 3,000 global executives to ask their opinion regarding “Customer Centricity” in their organization.
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Survey Results

Of the respondents, over 20% were sitting CEOs and board members and the remaining responses came from Divisional Presidents/GMs, Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Digital Officers and other go-to-market c-suite leaders. The companies were split between large (>$2B at 42%) and small (<$2B at 58%).

This survey revealed that nearly:

  • 75% of leaders say their business has already been disrupted due to customer behavior changes and
  • 70% expect their customers’ needs to change significantly more over the next 3 years

The following pages highlight further survey data and demonstrates the critical importance of having the right talent, metrics and culture in place to impact the required change.

Please note: “Customer” is used in this report to represent both customers (B2B) and consumers (B2C) – ultimately, to whom you are targeting to purchase your products and services.

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Customer-Centric Survey Findings

Customer Obsession Has Become a Key Corporate Strategy, But It Is Still Elusive

Most companies continue to struggle to know their customers ‘very well.'

Although the vast majority (75%) of senior executive believe they have a much better understanding of their customers than they did 3 years ago, only 14% say that they know them “very well” [score of 9 or 10 out of 10] – this is true for both large and small companies alike.

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Customer Needs and Purchase Behaviors Continue to Shift Rapidly - Their Loyalty Is Fleeting

Another part of the issue, is that customers are more fluid than ever…

Over the past 3 years, a third of respondents say that their customers have changed significantly (8 or higher) – becoming more diverse, less loyal and more price sensitive…

…and companies are continually trying to keep up by attracting wholly new sets of customers.

Almost half (48%) expect their customers will change significantly (8 and higher) over the next 3 years. In fact, 43% of all senior executives believe that their current customers are not the customers they will need to stay competitive in the future…

…and 60% of all senior executives believe that they will have to target a different set of customers, and 70% believe that they will need to attract a more diverse set of customers.

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Companies Plan to "Double Down" On Their Customer-Centric Investments

Not surprisingly, most companies plan to dramatically increase customer-related investments over the next 3 years…

80% expect they will increase their customer-related investments somewhat or significantly over the next 3 years as compared to the past 3 years

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Culture Remains One of the Most Significant Barriers

Despite visible CEO sponsorship for customer centricity and increased financial investments, corporate cultures are taking considerably longer to shift.

Senior executives from both large (>U$2B) and small (<U$2B) report that their CEOs strongly emphasize putting the customer at the center of all decision-making, however decision-making roles, rights and processes, may not be aligned to this strategy and may ultimately continue to impede accuracy, speed, and the desired business results.

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