Making Customer Centricity Work For Your Company

By David De Cremer

One essential ingredient in doing business today is customer centricity. Taking after the effective approach of telecom giant Huawei, the author not only directs us on how to make customer centricity work for your company but further provides 5 key dimensions toward a success.


Prospects for global growth remain pretty pessimistic making companies act in conservative and risk aversive ways. Despite this reality, at the same time some interesting economic and geopolitical changes are taking place that will significantly shape the long-term competitiveness and survival of organisations worldwide. And, no, it is not something that was unknown until now. In fact, the development that is taking place is an old and familiar face: The ability to make “customer centricity” part of your organisational culture and strategy. Why?

A development that is currently taking place involves the growth of the middle-class population. In 2009 the middle-class numbered about 1.8 million and it is expected that this number will reach 3.2 billion in 2025. The further development of emerging markets and the realisation that social inequality has to be addressed more firmly will move more people to the middle-class. Interestingly, the majority of this growth will be heavily concentrated in Asia. As the corporate world has adopted a global leadership approach, it follows that an important challenge for companies worldwide will be to adapt to a growing number of customers characterised by a diversity of cultural needs and preferences. Moreover, in the near future the rapid developments in the mobile digital technology will push an increasing number of high-tech customers in the mode of demanding more and better customer experiences. All these developments bring the notion of “customer centricity” more to the foreground than it has ever been.

Pro-active companies fostering their competitiveness must realise that efforts have to be devoted to making customer centricity a sincere and inclusive business strategy. Important to stress is that customer centricity is more than simply offering great service. It is also about how the company does business and how it puts customers at the core of their business. What can we learn from companies out there that are putting customers at the heart of their business? Since Asia represents the biggest growth opportunities for those companies managing customer centricity in efficient ways, I will discuss the example of a Chinese multinational company that has succeeded – since its foundation in 1987 – to make customer centricity their guideline in both strategy and purpose. This company is Huawei. Ever since 2012, when Huawei surpassed Ericsson as world leader in terms of sales revenue and net profit, revenue has only increased each year. In the fiscal year of 2016 Huawei’s revenue reached CNY521,574 billion (US$75,103 billion) and CNY37,052 billion (US$5,335 billion) in net profit.

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About the Author

David De Cremer is the KPMG Professor of Management Studies at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK, where he heads the Department of Organisational Leadership and Decision-Making. He is the author of the book Pro-active Leadership: How to overcome procrastination and be a bold decision-maker (2013) and co-author of “Huawei: Leadership, culture and connectivity” (2017).



1. De Cremer, D., & Shaw, J. (2016). What China’s shift to a service-oriented economy means to its managers. Harvard Business Review. July.
2. Tian, T., De Cremer, D., & Chunbo, Wu, C. (2017). Huawei: Leadership, culture and connectivity. Sage Publishing.
3. De Cremer, D. & Tian, T. (2015a). Huawei: A case study of when profit sharing works. Harvard Business Review, September.
4. De Cremer, D., & Tian, T. (2015b). Leading Huawei: Seven leadership lessons of Ren Zhengfei. The European Business Review, September/October, 30-35.
5. Tian, T., et. al. (2017). Huawei: Leadership, culture and connectivity. Sage Publishing.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. De Cremer, D., & Tian, T. (2016). Creating Effective Organizational Systems through Experimenting with Human Nature. The European Business Review, November/December, 6-10.
9. De Cremer, D. & Zhang, J. (2016). Why Focus-based Leadership is important to Huawei’s Business Strategy. The European Business Review, May/June, 40-43.
10. De Cremer & Tao, 2015b


The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of All China Review.