thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Re-Thinking Value

By on June 29, 2011

What are you offering your customers? It’s a question similar to 'What business are you in?'—but updated to be more customer-centric. If you haven’t thought about it recently, it is a great exercise.

Create a broader vision for your organization—one that is viewed from the customer’s perspective. A customer-centered purpose, for example, could read: [Our organization]’s purpose is (to create a more productive life) for the customer. This drives employees to expand to a more powerful interpretation of what employees can do for their customers. It supercedes the more traditional, narrowly focused perspective such as: [Our organization]’s purpose is to sell (our product or service).

Goethe quoteSo, for example, a newspaper company could limit itself by saying “We are in the business of selling newspapers” or it could go to a new dimension by thinking in terms of how they can benefit the customer. In that case, they could say “We are in the news and information business and our purpose is the keep our customers well-informed, regardless of the media that we use to deliver this information.”

Or a map company could believe they are in the business of supplying customers with directions, as well as other services, such as locating restaurants, historical sites, etc. or it could simply say “We are in the business of printing maps.” Internet sites could see their roles as allowing search capabilities or, more broadly, the retrieval of information when customers want it. I have an app on my phone that gives me the most current MLB baseball scores. I don’t have to search for them.

And the list goes on….

The future will not be about offering your customers a product. It is going to be about making your customers time spent more efficiently and their lives more enjoyable. That’s what they value. And that is what they will look for elsewhere if you cannot provide it to them. If you think you are in the newspaper business only, then you will be overtaken by a company in the information business.

A manufacturer of nutritional supplements broadly believes that its purpose is a healthier lifestyle for its customers, rather than to sell healthy supplements. Therefore, employees see their work and their value in not only selling products, but to provide information to as many consumers as possible so that those customers can benefit. That’s the difference in basing your work on a customer-centric purpose.

Ironically, being customer-centered also makes your products better. Why? Because these products and services that you are offering are now being designed based on what matters to your customers. The improvements to the products and services that you are offering are no longer limited. Going forward, they will be evaluated based on what your customers will use and value.


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