The Customer Confidential Podcast
Businesses often have two clashing perspectives, Ilenia Vidili says: an internal and an external. The internal view focuses on how those within a business perceive the impact of their work, while the external view reveals how the customer sees or experiences the business’s impact.
Ilenia Vidili, a customer-centricity adviser and author of Journey to Centricity, says that the magic of consumer-centricity happens when a brand aligns its internal and external perspectives. Product-centric businesses, she believes, lack a clear external understanding of what customers truly want, need, and value.
To align the internal and external views, Ilenia says, businesses must understand their customers on a deeper level. They need to use that understanding to create a brand experience that is consistent with what customers believe and what they identify with.
Companies should become the catalyst of their customers’ voices, she says. This means staying relevant to what new generations of consumers and employees stand for.
“Companies can be a force for good in society by caring for their customers and wider society, not just their objectives,” Ilenia says. “Customers today want to buy from companies that actually add value and have a higher purpose.”
Today, she says, “Companies see their business—or product innovation, customer relationships, and operations—from their own perspective, their own objectives, and their own processes, without really looking at the outside world.”
“Most companies are born without a purpose. The only objective is to maximize profit. And that happens at the expense of everything and everybody,” she explains. “That maximization of profit is ingrained in everything they do.”
In this episode, Ilenia and I discuss why it’s important that companies pursue a customer-centric purpose and put their customer at the center of the business to build lasting consumer rapport, truth, and empathy.
In the following excerpt, we discuss why consumer-centric companies choose to align their work and mission with what most of their consumers value too, such as taking a stance on important social causes or societal issues.
Rob: One of the things you said in your book was that it’s important for companies to take a stand—even if that stand may be antithetical to some of the market or some set of customers. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Ilenia: Yes. That means having a voice and even a position on something that they truly believe in. Brands should be helping society change some of the issues that we are facing today because there are so many issues that governments and institutions are not able to solve. Businesses, especially, have more power than governments and institutions.
And I think customers and employees believe more in businesses than they do in governments. That's why I think there is a trust deficit.
Companies that can really earn that trust from customers and employees can do something to change some of the societal issues that we are facing—ones that are completely different from ones we had 20 years ago. Especially climate change, loneliness, lack of empathy, and lack of trust.
We have a lot of problems to change.
Order Ilenia’s book, Journey To Centricity: A Customer-centric Framework for the Era of Stakeholder Capitalism, here.