thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Context is a Big Advantage (Part II)

By on June 3, 2009

Here's the reason that you want context from your customers: There is no greater source of new opportunities. Forget what you thought you knew about being customer-focused. The new business model is built around a culture in which employees, as Dev Patnaik says, "possess a shared and intuitive vibe...that helps them see new opportunities faster than their competitors." The goal is to constantly search for and develop new ideas "to improve the thousands of decisions people make every day."

We are surrounded by plenty of information, but, without customer context, the danger is that decisions will be made only from the viewpoint of how they will benefit the company. Customer context provides a valuable reference point. It validates a company's decisions against what is most valuable and most practical to its customers.

One of the most straightforward examples is the mail-order video rental service Netflix. It provides its employees with a free subscription service and, because they experience receiving and returning orders first-hand, they have come up process improvements and ideas for new services that will benefit all customers.

Consider the challenge given us by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" By adopting this vision, organizations will embrace the concept of learning to listen to their customers and to feel what they are feeling. The essence of being customer-centered is to know the full context in which your customers live and operate. By evaluating opportunities in the context of your customers, your organization will increase the potential for generating many new ideas, which will lead to a huge advantage--new growth platforms and real differentiation from your competition.


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