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4 min read
'Customer-centricity' may be the number one buzzword of the decade, so much so that it has almost become synonymous with 'fintech'. But how and why businesses should put the customer at the centre of everything they do?

In a recent episode of our Architects of Change podcast, we invited Sabrina Dar, Mambu’s Chief of Staff to the CEO and Author, Product designer and Technologist Pete Trainor to discuss how businesses can stand out from the crowd and how to deliver on customer value like no-one else.

One of the keys seems to be understanding what your core strengths are as a company and how to meet these. It means being able to look around the corner, take market insights, data and connect dots. And, finally, be the very best at doing it.

There are two ways to approach this.

  • Engineering-led - leverage data, ML and AI and offer customers products and services they didn't even know they needed. ML and AI enables us to deliver and run businesses in unthinkable ways. Things we didn't dream of before.
  • Customer-led - meet existing customer demands.

So whereas pre pandemic personalisation was considered a must-have, in the post pandemic world it has become more of a de-facto for tech companies. No one in Silicon Valley questions it and given the amount of data that customers share with businesses these days, there’s a real chance to step up the offering and give consumers what they want.

Personality, not just personalisation

“Today we realise that terms like ‘users’ or ‘consumers’, may endow a certain degree of dehumanising elements and that was a byproduct of the internet being spewed out for 15 years where people were treated like cattle, almost.” Admits Pete Trainor. “So the recommendation that I started giving to certain clients was that they started to use more humane terminology, bringing back the value that people have, which is a personality. Not just personalisation.”

“We've got a thousand apps on our phones that are all pinging for our attention for every personalised offer. This is where it kind of went wrong, right?” Echoes Sabrina Dar. “I think what's really important is that we start to realise that personalisation is about people's health, their wellbeing and what makes them tick and not just using personalisation and customer centricity to kind of scream for people's attention.”

Personalisation = co-creation

Sabrina also has ideas about the supposed split between an engineering-led personalisation and a customer-led personalisation and whether it is a false myth, or there is a genuine element to it: “The reality is that  it's got to have the customer at the centre of everything you're doing. But there's no doubt about what technology can do, how far it can push innovation, plus I think creativity is absolutely intermingled with engineering. However I do love the idea of personalisation being a co-creation space, bringing both customer and engineers together and getting the best of both worlds.”

The ethics of personalisation

“If you're looking for the classic example of technology that lost its focus and subsequently went wrong with radical personalisation, just look at social media” says Pete. The trigger is a harming advertising algorithm that pushes content out that may affect teens self-worth and self esteem. “It was never designed for that, but I think now we can learn the most from it and avoid making those mistakes in fintech.”

Technology as an industry it's been largely designed up until this point by people that aren't victims of biases like racism, sexism or ageism. And I think that's changing and that's great because you can't do personalisation unless you're doing it for everybody. if you're basing it on yourself, then you’ve automatically failed.” he concludes.

Listen to the full episode, hosted by Emma Lindley, here.

We believe in the power of change, and with Architects of Change we bring you stories and hands-on advice from the most inspiring entrepreneurs, the greatest innovators and the serious up and comers, every two weeks on Wednesdays. Listen to the second season, here.

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