Customers are the lifeblood of every organization. And yet most don’t know enough about their customers, their interactions, their preferences, what they’ve said across social channels, if they are happy, or if they are thinking about defecting to the competition, and why.

It’s not due to lack of trying. Companies are struggling to become nimble enough to first understand and then respond quickly and accurately to customer needs, across all departments, particularly customer service, sales & marketing and engineering, those which are most concerned with customer interaction. This requires placing the customer at the center of the organization.

We recently surveyed 130 executives at the 2012 Customer Care Leadership Forum, to get their thoughts on the importance of customer centricity, the value of this strategy, and specific barriers that stand in the way to achieving customer centricity. Executives report significant benefits to placing the customer in the center of the business, yet the growing number of enterprise systems and social channels, the geometric growth of data, and internal and external silos, all contribute to block the path to customer centricity.

Here’s a closer look at some of the key survey findings:

–  63 percent of respondents believe that the biggest value of a customer-centric strategy is to drive revenue.

–  69 percent of respondents noted that the most prominent barrier to customer centricity is the inability to collaborate and share information across sales/marketing, customer service and product engineering functions.  This is in spite of organizations having implemented collaboration platforms and social communities.

–  Moreover, 42 percent of respondents estimate that their companies have visibility into less than a quarter of information across all interaction channels, including social streams.

–  65 percent noted that they do not (54 percent) combine social data with enterprise content or are not sure (11 percent) of whether their organizations combine this data in customer service and support operations. Additional survey findings can be found in the news release.

It’s clear that information is the “make or break” ingredient to achieving customer centricity. Understanding what information is available, how to consolidate it across silos, systems, teams, geographies, and how to make sense of it all – are the keys to establishing a culture of customer centricity.

Would you classify your organization as customer centric? If so, what strategies do you have in place to ensure all customer facing groups have insight into customer information across enterprise and social channels? If not, what barriers do you face?