thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Customer 3D Creates ‘Us’ Thinking

By on April 4, 2012

PeopleThoughtBubbles_lrgTraditionally, companies have established and maintained an intentional separation from their customers—creating a gap between themselves and their clients. The mentality was: We sell and they buy. We make the rules and they follow, because that makes us more efficient and it lowers risk. We make judgments about what customers need rather than observing what they need.

In The Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony relates the story of A.G. Lafley’s strategy to re-orient Procter & Gamble’s direction by driving decisions based on deep customer understanding. In order to re-energize the company he told employees, “We have one and only one boss that matters: the consumer. The consumer is boss.”  This went beyond voice-of-the-customer surveys to a stronger focus on finding out what the consumer wanted but could not articulate.

I understand the customer-as-the-boss comment. It is designed to focus the internal organization on the importance of the external customer. Organizations that use this mantra want the business to demonstrate a new respect for the customer, which, of course, is admirable. However, it implies that there is an inequality in the relationship.

Customer 3D organizations think differently. 3D organizations consider customers as partners. They think about “us” when they consider those customers. They share the same “space” with their customers and own the responsibility for providing the highest value that can be delivered. Value is defined as what will make the customer successful. Instead of reacting as one might behave with a boss, equality and collaboration with customers opens up a much broader dimension of possibilities. Bosses are limiting. Collaborating on an equal basis is virtually unlimited.

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