Becoming truly customer-centric: 3 key challenges

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

The road to becoming truly customer-centric is paved with challenges.  Allan Chen, Principal in the STRAT7 Advisory team, discusses how to overcome them,  unlocking opportunities for growth.  

Many businesses invest heavily in understanding their customers yet struggle to bring that to bear on making the big business decisions. Why?

1 / Being stuck in silos

One of the most common pitfalls is not having the knowledge and data in the right place or working in the right way. Often, data and insights stay contained within their own functions. To really drive the direction, it needs to be reaching all part of the business, including board level.

“We’ve always been actually quite consumer centric. But it all sits at a marketing level in the business… for it to really impact decision making it has to sit at a business level. My real focus at the moment is how do I flip where the resource is spent and where the impact is felt… it needs to be wider.”  Client view – Head of Insight, Global CPG Business.

By the same token, insight teams may not have access to the transactional data or customer services data. Joining the dots and enabling cross-functional teams to work in harmony drives the best outcomes.

Getting to this point is challenging, especially for large organisations with complex organisational structures. Operational transformation is often necessary to achieve true customer-centricity, and the desire and change must come from the top.

2 / Suffering lack of buy-in from the top

Recent data from PWC CEO survey indicates that 64% of companies with a customer-focused CEO are more profitable than their competitors. Yet the customer perspective still struggles to get the air-time it deserves in Board discussions.

Pressure for results means leaders often prioritise short-term profit over building long-term customer relationships. As a result, many businesses overlook customer-centric growth opportunities that have the potential to drive loyalty, satisfaction and profitability.

When customer sentiment is a leading metric you can seize opportunities and respond to change with the right moves — it is key to staying agile and ahead of the curve.

Even building one or two customer metrics into the performance dashboard makes a difference. For example, linking NPS (Net Promoter Score) to performance demonstrates the impact, embedding its value.

“If your customer experience is bad, you start to churn. We put NPS at the very top of our company measures. Once that happened, decisions started to revolve around the customer.”  Client view – Head of Insight, Global Telecoms Business

3 / Insights not packaged right to get the attention they deserve

To be taken seriously, customer metrics can’t come across as ‘fluffy’. Positioning them as hard evidence, linked to performance is key to getting buy in.

To get customer insights into the boardroom, those handling the data need to be mindful of how they land. Those at the top invariably are time-pressed with a host of competing responsibilities. An 80 page PowerPoint is not going to get cut-through…

For maximum impact, the remit of the insight department should be to drive customer-closeness and bring that perspective onto the business agenda. Those holding the right information need to be compelling storytellers, articulating the value of being customer-driven to key stakeholders. This may require a shift in how things are done, and building capability, but will pay dividends.

Developing a framework of thinking around customer-centricity can guide insight and marketing teams to navigate how their work fits into the bigger picture. This will make it easier to have the right conversations at the right time with business leaders.

“If you can get senior leaders to make decisions with customer/ financial/ people in mind – in that framework. I think that really does help. It’s a signal from senior leaders that the customer is a conscious part of the decision and in every business case you consider across all those branches.”

Client view – Head of Insight, UK Retail Business

What’s stopping your business from becoming customer-centric?

Overcome the barriers and turn the dial towards customer-centricity. You’ll become an insight-led, more profitable organisation, able to respond to customers’ changing preferences in ways that help you stand out.

Our STRAT7 Advisory team can help you assess how customer-centric you are in reality and pull together a powerful blend of technology, human understanding and data science. This will mean solving your specific problems to build your organisation around customer understanding, so you can continually deliver on your customers’ needs and desires.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch.


Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.


Alice Hedlund


Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald


Job Title

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Tom Carvell


Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker


Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills


Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald


Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.


Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.