Growing a business used to be simple. It was all about: come up with an idea, find a market, promote and grow sales, achieve economies of scale, get a larger customer base, streamline costs in order to maximize profits, improve the operations. Let’s face it, it worked and that ‘Inside-out’ way of thinking has built some of the great companies of today.
The problem is that the world has changed. It is no longer just about developing world class products and services, having the best operations, getting things to the right place in the most effective way or managing costs. Arguably, concentrating on these things has led to companies losing focus on their most important asset: the customer.
Today, the world has been turned upside down. Of course you have to have great products and valuable services. Your operations need to be effective and you need to manage costs. But these are the givens and will not differentiate you in a competitive environment. Customers need to experience value and perceive you as adding value to them – personally and corporately. There is so much choice available and in today’s connected world it is so much easier for your customers to make those choices, sometimes without you even knowing that they have.
Bringing the Voice of the Customer into an organisation can no longer be considered something the marketing department does as a sideline; it is now an imperative and needs to be supported from the very top. Engaging with your customers in the most appropriate way and having an organisation that holistically looks at the subject in a mature way can no longer be viewed as the latest ‘management’ fad. It is essential for survival. If you expect to be around for the long term it may be wise to assess the maturity of your thinking on customers.
If you aren’t doing it, your competitors may well be.