thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

The Best Fit with Your Customers

By on February 3, 2010

FlexibleJigsaw_lrgThe way organizations must behave to keep customers has fundamentally shifted. Cutting-edge strategies realize that customers in every market are going to keep changing; it’s the nature of the times we live in. Therefore, why try to relate to these customers with a static, rules-driven culture? What worked for your customers in the past may not work today. Flexibility is the new goal.

Margaret Wheatley at www.margaretwheatley.com has an interesting take on keeping pace with change in her article “What Do We Measure and Why?” She challenges traditional business measures because they do not produce the behaviors that connect employees to their work and a shared sense of what they want to create for their customers. Visionary leaders understand that, in terms of measurement, “What was ‘right’ keeps changing.” But even though the established measures are no longer working, feedback is still important to “vitality and adaptability” just as in any living system.

Leaders need to set the tone for their organizations around gathering and applying the information necessary for them to “adapt and thrive” rather than assuming that the product or service offerings will continue to enjoy the same success in the future. They must support the approach to customers that is “context dependent” instead of unchanging. This culture learns new questions to ask in order for the business to hone its performance and it fosters an environment in which customers and organizations can “coevolve” and stay connected. I encourage you to read her article.

What has value to your customers? That is where their feedback is so important. Value equates to how the individual customer feels about doing business with you. It is your “fit” with their needs and it is embodied in an emotional connection. Execution involves a deep understanding and a high degree of flexibility because “fit” is judged by your delivery in its broadest, most proactive, sense. What if you could promise your customers that you will always look for better value for them—and mean it? If you are not articulating this philosophy of customer flexibility to your organization, you are voting by your silence for business-as-usual and showing customers you are really product-centric.

The challenge for the future is to keep up with changing customers’ expectations. The solution is a customer-centered system flexible enough to continually re-evaluate how you deal with your customers. With this deep-rooted customer focus, organizations learn to focus on adaptability and growth, rather than stability and control. If your customers are changing, and they are, you must have a customer-centered system that allows you to anticipate their needs and to change with them if you want to sustain superior performance. Capability of changing with your customers is the most powerful message you can send.

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