Customer-Centricity: More Than Just a Trend

April 3, 2017

Every company today will tell you that customer-centricity is a priority – in fact it’s almost a challenge to find one that does not! And for good reason. “Customer-centricity” is sometimes used as a universal term for any customer engagement activity – customer feedback, customer care, customer satisfaction, etc. But customer-centricity is about a lot more than a good customer experience.

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CEO Gonzalo Ramírez Martiarena

Sustained success depends increasingly on having all the facts. Without a clear insight into needs and wants, how can we be sure that our strategies, processes and marketing will satisfy customers?

While customer-centricity is far more than just a trend, the fact remains that companies are investing more than ever in understanding and meeting customer preferences and expectations. And why now, you might ask?

Power to the people

Throughout the 20th century, countless advances in technology impacted the way companies like ours do business – mechanized farming, transportation networks, the telegraph … to name only a few.

But beyond our business specifically, the latest revolutionary developments and innovations that we have experienced in the last couple of years have forever changed the way we interact with each other and with the world around us. And the pace of change has increased exponentially. The rise of digital has permeated most parts of our daily routine: A recent study reported that more people across the globe own a mobile device than a toothbrush!

With increased access to technology came greater access to information – global, detailed, diversified information. And as customer awareness has grown, giving people the power to compare, contrast and choose one product or service over another, so too have expectations.

Because as the saying goes, information is power.

The human touch

After so much technological advancement, our business now faces an unprecedented challenge: Evolving our approach to customer service in the digital age.

As a family company, with a mission to meet the very essential, human need for sustenance, at Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) innovative customer service must extend far beyond computers, trading algorithms and industrial machinery, to the “human” piece of the puzzle – to relationships.

Building on foundations laid over more than 165 years, today it’s time to cement relationships with our customers, looking on them as our most important partners, and the key to our future success.

And speaking of partnerships, we cannot ignore the benefits of alliances with our peers, nor the importance of our relationships with farmers – some spanning generations – with whom we work towards increased production yield and quality.

From cotton farmers in India to coffee cooperatives in Colombia, the partnerships we establish today will define our ability to deliver reliably and sustainably tomorrow.

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Leading the way

As our customer base evolves and diversifies, and the competitive landscape shifts and consolidates, responding to emerging customer trends across key markets is no longer enough. We must anticipate these, defining our commercial models and strategies accordingly. We must act – not react.

In this context, LDC has a key opportunity to leverage its competitive advantage to remain at the cutting edge of our business. A chance to consolidate our position as an industry leader, while fulfilling our vision to work towards a safe and sustainable future, contributing to the global effort of providing sustenance for a growing population.

While we can, and must, rely on our core strengths – risk management expertise, market intelligence, global scale and a wide financing network – the opportunity lies in our capacity to build strong, lasting relationships based on trust, with our customers.

Listen, analyze, relate … THEN act

Our business lines – and their customers – are as different as they are diverse. Which naturally adds to the complexity of being fully tuned in to changing customer trends.

But time and experience have taught us to manage complexity – and as entrepreneurs, taking up a challenge is what we do best!

Working to a set of shared principles, our business lines are all engaged in putting in place a framework to understand and then address customer needs and preferences.

From segmented marketing plans and value propositions in Coffee, to financial support for Cotton customers. From shared value shipping benefits for Rice customers, to industrial consultancy services and tailored packaging in Juice. From best practice sharing workshops and customer engagement events in Agricultural Inputs, Grains and Oilseeds, to responsible supply chain sourcing efforts across various platforms.

These are just some examples of the many ways in which we are taking steps to be closer to our customers, and meet their needs and expectations. Greater flexibility, tailored services, efficiency through synergies, shared market intelligence… the approach may differ, but the objective is the same: To place our customers at the heart of everything we do.


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