thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer


By on September 23, 2009

Think of customer-centricity as a new language that must be learned. You don’t want to be choppy or awkward in your delivery or have to rely only on certain words or phrases that you are comfortable with. You want to be fluent.

Swoosh by MarblaFluency in a language requires superior skills in both comprehension and delivery. This smoothness is similar to the characteristics needed to be customer-centric. However, fluency is ultimately judged by the listener, not by your opinion of how experienced you believe you are.

One of the most admired companies for customer focus is Toyota. They believe in “Customers first, dealers second – and manufacturer last." One of the core values they embrace is continuous improvement for the customer. This leads them to future growth and keeps them away from rigidities in their processes. They accept new challenges in the ways that lifetime learners of a language consistently look for new ways to become more eloquent. They want to meet every customer need in the same way a fluent speaker wants to be able to understand and use as many words as possible.

Supplier-centric companies expect customers to speak their language. If you have traveled to a country whose citizens don't speak your language and you expect them to understand and respond to you, you will be very disappointed. Communication is inevitably poor when it is one-sided. In a similar manner, structure your business philosophy to always evaluate how the customer sees you and to question how you can make improvements. Being a customer-centric organization is not a destination. It is predicated on new progress every day and it requires practice to become fluent.

Customer fluency is grounded in sharing a common language--the one that your customer is comfortable with and understands. Just as in demonstrating your skills in a new language, the native speaker of that language is the best judge of how proficient you are in your skills. Set the goal for your organization to be customer-centric As your fluency in being customer-centered improves, your organization will become more motivated to continue the learning process.

Success requires collaboration so that your organization is “speaking the customer’s language.” However, it goes far beyond learning (metaphorically) enough words and phrases to get by. If you are not thinking like a customer, the results will not be sustainable. The conversation will inevitably break down. Focusing on your customers is the most important dimension of your culture, and its delivery must be as fluent as possible.

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