By Nick Jankel

Professional Global Keynote Speaker, Transformation & Innovation Catalyst, Leadership Theorist & Practitioner, 6 x Dyslexic Author, 3 x TV Coach, Co-Creator of Bio-Transformation®

Back To Basics: Developing Radical Customer-Centricity

There is much talk at the moment about a return to customer-centricity after years of focus on digital transformation,  innovation, and the like—although all innovation and digital transformation should be focused on customers, internal or external, anyhow!

Nothing is more important that serving authentic customer needs—and doing so in a way that inspires and delights—in our times of economic turbulence, cultural anxiety, and cost of living challenges. Customer Centricity should not be a fad or catchphrase, or even something done by a few in marketing or sales.

Customer-centricity is—and should be understood as— the sin qua non of every “organization”: whether a business, community group, august institution or Fortune 500. Quite frankly: there is no need for your organization if it is not serving the needs of your customers (citizens, consumers, talent, payers, users etc) that they cannot meet themselves.

In our rapidly democratizing world, customers and employees are becoming increasingly empowered, challenging institutions to serve them in new ways or risk being rejected. When customers can solve themselves the problems you used to solve for them, they don’t need you; and they certainly don’t need to pay you a high margin for all your work. Cue corporate death.

This fundamentally disrupts every marketplace. When customers and employees become more empowered, they solve more or their own problems than they used to. More importantly, in our rapidly accelerating VUCA world, customers also change what they consider to be problems worth solving in the first place!

Adapting To Rapid Customer Changes

As customers change, becoming more practically and cognitively liberated, they may not be as interested in using a politicized social media platform, worrying about underarm perspiration, or willing to pay charges on withdrawing money from an ATM while on holiday.

Every part of every organization, whether it serves internal customers or paying customers, needs to constantly stay in tune with customers. It needs to listen to them and seek to understand them. It needs to attempt to pre-empt their needs. It needs to spot the emerging pain points of current and potential customers – and innovate to resolve these pain points with value-creating products, services, and processes that clearly demonstrate the benefits.

I recently got asked for some three-sentence summaries of my new keynote on Customer-Centricity.

As I wrote, passion fueled my words, morphing a business-like prose into something akin to poetry: An Ode To Customer-Centricity perhaps! So I built on them to create 20 invitations and routes to become customer-centric, for every manager, leaders, and frontline worker in any organization.

I was re-inspired by my origins as a consumer planner and strategist for Nike and PlayStation in the ad industry back in the 90s.

Transformational Keynotes with Top International Speaker Nick Jankel

Motivate, inspire, and transform audiences with global keynote speaker and leadership futurist Nick Jankel.

Customized, experiential, and transformational keynotes.

Actionable insights and take away tools.



I realized that my entire reason for getting into first advertising (from being a medic), then innovation, then leadership and keynotes speaking, was always about people: making organizations and institutions serve the pain, and unleash the possibilities, of people.

20 Ways To Get Radically Customer-Focused

  • Customer-centricity is about fully getting that every business exists ONLY to solve problems customers can’t solve themselves—concrete problems (financial safety, health etc.) as well as cultural problems (loss of meaning, fear of the future, loneliness, alienation etc.)—and solving these problems with their products/services, customer experiences and employee processes, and communications.
  • Customer-centricity means having the humility to always know, no matter how high we rise, that our business or organization only exists because our customers choose to be our patrons—and that humility is present in the way we treat our internal and external customers.
  • Customer-centricity means that we never lose our humility with hubris or complacency, always knowing that our existence as an organization is reliant on people wanting, need, buying, working for, and supporting us.
  • Customer-centricity means realizing that as our customers are changing fast, especially becoming more empowered in newer generations, then business has to stay close to customers, constantly connecting with them, rather than focus solely internally.
  • Customer-centricity means constantly seeking ways to create value—exponential if possible, incremental everywhere else—by finding and solving new customer problems and pain points before others do.
  • Customer-centricity means being, as managers and leaders, as frontline workers and HQ strategists, relentlessly curious about what our customer wants, needs, envisions, and hopes for their future—and finding ways to support these.
  • Customer-centricity means ensuring that our purpose as a business or institution is to alleviate the concrete pain, and unleash the tangible possibilities, of our people, whether talent or buyers.
  • Customer-centricity means constantly seeking ways to delight our customers to they enjoy engaging with us, stay loyal to us, but also talk about us in excited ways to others.
  • Customer-centricity means not just offering customers what they think they want, but what they actually need—being unafraid to gently but consistently challenge them for their own long-term empowerment and wellbeing, even if it means leaving money on the table.
  • Customer-centricity means telling your customers about what you offer in ways that make it clear What’s In It For Them—using benefit language not features to show how your offerings will help them achieve their ultimate goals (removing pain, experiencing gains)

Sign up to our regular newsletter

Insightful articles, practical wisdom, and nourishing content on how to transform yourself, your organizations, and our world.

  • Customer-centricity means taking the time to explain to customers that there are better, more sustainable, more just ways to do business—and to live—without being superior, judgmental, or paternalistic.
  • Customer-centricity means wanting to connect with, know, and understand our users so much that we can solve problems and pain points that they aren’t even clear that they have yet or can’t articulate yet.
  • Customer-centricity means spending many hours and days developing a “customer intuition” about what your customers needs—from being with customers, speaking with them, connecting with them (whether by working on the frontlines or by attending many focus groups; from listening in to customer call centers to asking frontline staff to feedback their insights on the customer).
  • Customer-centricity means making sure changes, insights and unmet needs from the frontlines find their way—using the latest technology as well as old fashioned conversations—into our leadership board rooms, innovation workshops, and tactical decision-making processes.
  • Customer-centricity means telling stories not listing off specs—that involve your customers in a narrative where they are the heroes and your products/services help them be victorious in their battles for a better life/world
  • Customer-centricity means staying alert for what is breaking down in culture—and what is breaking through—and having the courage to act without perfect data to fine-tune our offering, and innovate transformative new ones, to fit and forge the future.
  • Customer-centricity means reducing profit margins, where necessary, in order to serve internal and external customers with the appropriate levels of care and quality—and both ethically and responsibly.
  • Customer-centricity means being unafraid to learn from our customers, and learn with our customers, taking ownership of, and apologizing for, what we get wrong—before adapting, fixing, and improving our offering so we evolve in conversation and relationship with our people.
  • Customer-centricity means constantly seeking to resonate emotionally and cognitively with our customers, finding ways to speak in their language and acting in ways that fit their vibes—without ever losing our authenticity and sense of self.
  • Customer-centricity means offering our customers some courage, confidence, and coherence in our age of anxiety, uncertainty, and fragmentation—using our brand “story” in marketing and in customer service experiences to shine a light on a hopeful and positive future for them and our species.
Transformational Keynotes with Top International Speaker Nick Jankel

Motivate, inspire, and transform audiences with global keynote speaker and leadership futurist Nick Jankel.

Customized, experiential, and transformational keynotes.

Actionable insights and take away tools.