thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

What Will Be Different?

By on April 6, 2011

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” This, of course, is probably the most expected question in any job interview. Now, what if you shortened the time span to two years and asked this about your own organization? How will your focus be different?

If you said that you want to become more customer-centered, that’s a good direction. However, this requires a full understanding of your current organizational culture and a re-orienting to move the business away from its product focus. Most product-centered organizations don’t realize how far they are from their customers.

So, as an exercise, eliminate all product considerations from your thoughts. If you need something to refer to as you formulate your vision of the future, imagine that you are selling “widgets”—a non-specific product. Now, concentrate only on your culture and describe how the behaviors in that culture will be different toward customers when this new approach kicks in.

Eagle_lrgA shift to customer-centricity requires a developmental stance by an organization and its leaders. But the change process cannot work effectively unless the organization can visualize what will be different. Leaders must agree what the new behaviors will look like and they have to communicate this new vision. It will only be successful if it is deeply rooted in the culture. It will only be successful when customer-centered behavior is a core value of the organization.

My work has found that truly customer-centered organizations are focused on anticipating customers’ needs and consultative in providing solutions that will solve these needs. That change does not happen by simply wishing it to be. Organizations have to be shown how to collaborate. Employees must be educated and empowered. Most importantly, the best indicator of this different, customer-centered culture is the ability to flag actions when performance for customers is not consistent with core values and knowing how to advocate for the customer by pointing out these inconsistencies and correcting them.

Put your organization on a journey that creates a customer-centered culture. Convince all employees in the company that they can be developers of creative new ideas for your customers. Design a culture that is empowered to “own” the customer in every interaction. Once that culture is defined, put your products back into the equation but with a completely new perspective. Where you are in two years will be dramatically different—and better.

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