You can’t have missed the fact that all the retail banks are getting hot under the collar about “Customer Experience”. In fact businesses everywhere are starting to wake up to the idea that without the customer there’s no reason for them to exist at all.
This is not news for retailers (or at least most of them) or indeed any consumer facing business that has had to wage war in recent times against the dreaded commoditization of their marketplace and the hyper competition and market and margin erosion that ensues. It is however quite a slap round the chops for those businesses who thought that the people in businesses they sold to, were just a job role or that the product they made or service they offered was “enough” to differentiate them and build sustainable competitive advantage.
Now we’re seeing organisations of all types and sizes, serving markets of every description slowly coming to the realisation that everything starts with the customer.
Does it, really though?
You know, I think it does at least it does for organisations looking to stay ahead of the competition. It does also for businesses looking to create, maintain or even grow profit margins.
The problem for most businesses that operate Business to Business (B2B) is that their strategy really starts in the boardroom or even with the shareholders. The objectives set here (which let’s face it will be pretty predictable) are likely to bear more relation to the commercial intent of the owners than the requirements of the market and in some cases (even very, very big company cases) they are likely to bear no relation to the reality of what can practically be achieved.
Only last week I heard of a large US conglomerate that took regional sales predictions, added 50% and then trebled them.. then pushed them back down to the regions as a sales target. Yes Really.
The tsunami of trouble and cycle of doom these approaches cause is self-evident but it happens year on year.
The more enlightened organisations start their strategy with real customer insight and intimacy. It goes from here into the boardroom to determine what’s needed and what’s achievable and then out to the troops to take it back to the customers who asked for it.
Does that sound too simple to be true? It’s not you know. It’s how the companies you see growing exponentially are doing it. It’s how start-ups succeed (or indeed by not doing it, why they don’t).
It works like a symbiotic, virtuous circle. Customer, informing strategy, informing employee, informing customer, informing strategy and so on.
It’s not rocket science and that’s why it’s working for the companies you see today taking the market by storm.