Iliyana's Blog

Are Global Businesses Putting Their Customers First? Not Really

[fa icon="calendar"] 20-Jun-2019 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

Time for Change digital disruptionOne of the most popular buzzwords nowadays is customer-first or putting your customer at the centre of every business decision and activity.

I stand behind it. The Inbound PR methodology preaches this customer or as I call it persona-first thinking and in fact doesn't really work without it. 

Far too many businesses are still putting their products and services first when it comes to their marketing, sales and communications decisions even though they say they're customer-centric. 

In fact, over 80% of businesses are talking about the benefits of a customer-first approach, but few of these are turning talk into action. 

This stat comes from Optimizely - a leader in customer experimentation technology that did research earlier this year around the digital experience economy. 

I dug into it and I want to share some key findings and learnings: 

8 Key Problems for Customer-First:

  • Over half (51%) of respondents said customer centricity isn't focused on enough in their organization, despite the rhetoric.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of global businesses are either moderately or very concerned about being digitally disrupted by their competition.
  • 48% of businesses are struggling to meet customer demands for high-quality digital experiences.
  • 91% of respondents claimed that their organisation's employees are capable of delivering a constant flow of new ideas focused on improving the digital customer experience.
  • Over a third (34%) say that organisational structures make it too difficult to turn an idea into reality.
  • 34% of team members say they don't have time to focus on new ideas at all either.
  • One in five organizations (20%) still have a culture where failure is not an option and is viewed negatively hence why employees are afraid of suggesting not to mention trying new ideas out.
  • 40% of business decision-makers don't understand what their organisation means by 'digital transformation.

Two Key Solutions to Being Customer-First: 

  1. Cross-functional collaboration: According to the research, businesses are failing because their organisations aren't set up for collaboration. 79 % of business leaders admin that the customer experience would benefit if the product, marketing, and IT/engineering teams worked together more closely.
  2. Experimentation: 80% of companies see experimentation as a solution to meeting customer digital demands.

What's my take on this?

I'll just say this: companies are afraid to change. I see this with Inbound PR and generally with the adoption of new digital methods and technology all the time. People say they want to change but they are afraid to take a risk, make a mistake and are more concerned with the loss and not the gain. 

This is a natural reaction to the unknown but to me, it's just the wrong way of looking at life and business. Change means progress. Without the willingness to at least try, you will never be able to change nor progress in a digital world that's moving and changing basically every second. Organisations need to learn to keep up by being more agile and open to experimenting and constantly discovering new opportunities as well as areas to retire. 


Topics: Brands and Business, Technology, Customer Experience, Customer Success

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Chief of Staff to the EMEA President at ServiceNow. Before that, she held global and EMEA-wide positions at Cisco and HubSpot. She is also certified by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

Subscribe here!

New call-to-action
New call-to-action

Get Social

Blog Awards 2018_Winners Silver MPU

Popular Posts

Public Relations Today

Want to talk?


I'm always happy to chat about how we can work together. Get in touch with me and start the conversation. I'd love to hear from you.

Contact Me