Accelerated development offers an array of possibilities

The customer wields the sceptre once again – owing to digitalisation. PwC expert Gustav Baldinger, Partner and Head of Advisory Services at PwC Switzerland, explains what this means for companies. He talks about the new opportunities for client centricity and speaks his mind about the need for customer experience and entrepreneurial agility.

Magazine: Customer focus – January 2019

Mr Baldinger, how does digitalisation contribute to customer centricity?

It accelerates the development of products and services and offers various possibilities for segmenting customers in real time. In addition, more agile platforms for customer relationship management have emerged in the Cloud. Digital tools can be used to automate recurring customer interactions. All of this contributes to a more thorough understanding of customer behaviour and enables companies to engage with their customers more flexibly today.

Which industries are the most advanced in this regard, and which ones are the laggards?

Basically, all companies and industries are affected. Two prominent early adopters are the consumer goods and telecom industries. The B2C markets are subject to rapid innovation and technology cycles and are under tremendous price and margin pressure. Financial services providers, insurers and pharma/life science companies jumped on the bandwagon in a second wave. The public sector is one of the late followers. The manufacturing industry is concentrating mainly on the optimisation of their E2E value chains by means of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotic approaches, as their B2B business is less affected by other digitalisation trends.

Gustav Baldinger
Partner and Head of Advisory Services PwC Switzerland

Buyer experience and entrepreneurial agility are key components of business models that focus resolutely the customer. Why?

The customer experience has become more important, ecosystems have evolved and geo-economic changes have become more volatile. This forces companies to react flexibly to change. First, they have to establish short decision-making paths, form alliances and partnerships, and minimise interfaces. Second, they need to adapt their way of thinking and culture by continuously learning, strengthening their leadership culture, forming flexible team structures, as well as taking Gen Z into account in the ways and means they create value.

How client-centric is PwC?

Customer centricity is part of our corporate culture. Together with our clients, we conduct immersion sessions and accompany them with flexible methods and workshops in their quest for new business models. Moreover, through rapid prototyping, we make the customer experience and new business models tangible for the consumer. We listen carefully to our clients and grasp where they stand within their transformation. Based on these findings, along with our industry-specific experience and the innovative symbiosis we share with the client, we develop business cases with joint investments and joint returns. Together, we also build databases and platforms that can involve the inclusion of third-party partners and the formation of alliances. And finally, we set a good example: we invest a lot of time in the training of our people and entrust young, dynamic employees with responsibility for addressing today’s digitalisation issues.