Customer-centric vs Product-centric: Does your company know the difference?

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Companies everywhere are claiming to be customer-centric. They are not just telling that to their customers, but also to their employees.

In this world where customers are increasingly prioritizing experience over products, companies can confuse their desire with reality.

Before we dive right into the details of customer-centric, let’s take a look at how a product-centric company behaves.


Your company is product-centric if you:

  • Think of what products you can develop to sell to customers.
  • Build products with features that you think customers would want.
  • Define targeting strategy and audience after product idea has been finalized.
  • Reward teams based on sales results.
  • Think of stories to convince customers to buy your products.
  • Execute generic marketing strategies based on demographic segmentation.
  • Feel that it is fine to send out 2 marketing emails per week to each customer.


Your company is customer-centric if you:

  • Identify pain points of existing customers who are using your products.
  • Build solutions to address issues raised and to improve customer experience.
  • Generate product ideas based on customer feedback and in-depth data insights.
  • Introduce customer-engagement metrics as part of employees’ KPIs.
  • Think of what can be done to make the existing products better.
  • Execute highly-personalized marketing strategies based on user behavioral data, both online and offline.
  •  Engage your customers with relevant contents in a timely manner. Yes, “Do you remember me?” reminders are fine, as long as they are used sparingly.

Can a company be both customer-centric and product-centric?

Absolutely. One good example is Apple.

iMac, iPod, iPhone. These are just some of the Apple products that were highly sought after by customers, almost cult-like.

In the product department, Apple was doing great. What’s even greater, is their focus on the experience provided to the customers and their emotional needs.

Here are some reasons why customers love the MacBook (even though there’s no “backspace” key and MS Excel simply doesn’t agree with it):

  • Enjoyable buying experience.
  • Great after-sales care.
  • Wonderful appearance.
  • Simple to use (as it integrates seamlessly with other Apple products).
  • Symbol of status.
A Windows laptop can be much more powerful than a MacBook given the same budget, but having a MacBook means so much more.
From the moment you step into an Apple shop, till the day you retire your beloved MacBook, Apple promises to be there for you. Apple gives you the journey no other can provide.
 That my friend, is customer-centric and product-centric coexisting together.

Customer-centric yet?

For established companies, it is easy to hide behind your performing products. This often leads to difficulty getting out of the comfort zone.

To be customer-centric, you require brilliant minds, working together to provide solutions while constantly seeing things from the customer’s perspectives.

In case you are wondering, I am not going to tell you “web analytics can solve XXX”. Because, it simply isn’t the case here.

There needs to be a fundamental change in workplace culture. Employees need to abandon their own selfish goals and work together, towards the same goal.

Only then can we harness the power of data to help us truly understand our customers.

About Zenny Tan Zhong Ming 32 Articles
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