It’s not about you. It’s about your customers.
Peter Drucker wrote about this in his 1973 book Management, “It is the customer who determines what a business is.” (p. 61). If it is the customer who determines what a business delivers, its value, and keeps the business in existence, shouldn’t we be paying a lot more attention to our customers?
Many of us say we are all about our customers but the fundamentals of our organization often don’t reflect this.
- Are customers the centerpiece of your organization’s mission, vision, and values?
- Does your organization have a budget (even a small one) for customer experience research, training, and development?
- Do you create an organizational culture that allows employees to be at their best so they can be their best for customers?
#2: You develop products and services that you want.
It’s not about what you want to do. It’s about what your customers need.
The ideal situation is where there is substantial overlap between what you want and what your customers want. Maybe you got into your position or business thinking you would finally be able to do what you want. That’s great if what you want is also what your customers want.
However, customers always win.
John Schneider and Julie Hall in their 2011 Harvard Business Review article “Why most product launches fail” used the example of Segway to illustrate a revolutionary product that had no market. The original goal of selling 10,000 machines per week wasn’t even close to the actual numbers: 24,000 in the first five years.
I’m not even sure we realize that we are doing this. We get a great idea, we are sure it will be a hit, and then we run with it. The surprise comes when no one buys what we thought was so great.
- Before putting time into fully developing a product or service, do you gather feedback from customers in the target market?
- Once you have gathered feedback, do you integrate the feedback in the redesign or do you assume that you “know better” and go forward anyway?
- One you have launched a product or service, do you continue to gather feedback to make sure you are addressing the needs and wants of customers?
#3: Your metrics and action items are only about you.
It’s not about what you think is important. It is what your customers think is important.
Every month most of us are reviewing our numbers and action items. What numbers and activities you focus on say a lot about your priorities. In “The New Measure of Customer Service Success,” Leonard Klie reports how traditional metrics of customer call centers often used the representative’s time on the call. Higher call times meant worse performance. Now, many call centers are looking at whether or not the customer’s issue was resolved the first time the customer called. This is a great example of a shift in metrics to be more customer-focused.
- Along with number of leads, conversions, sales, and revenues, does your dashboard also reflect things such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer experience?
- Are you evaluating your customer-focused metrics to make sure they are capturing what is important to the customer?
- Do you set aside money in your budget for listening to customers through methods ranging from sit-down brainstorming sessions with key customers to customer surveys?
Is your organization self-centered? If so, you are not alone.
Even corporations struggle with these issues. Bloomberg reported in an August 2012 article that Sony is going to invest $6 billion in research and development in the year ending March 31st. According to Shoji Nemoto, an executive vice-president of technology strategy and corporate research and development, the focus will be “more on customer needs and not be so inward-looking.” Nemoto also commented, “The impact of the Clie personal digital assistant…and the Airboard portable TV…could have been greater if Sony were more customer-focused.” (emphasis added)