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Differentiation

Making a Difference

By on July 18, 2012

Customer-centered businesses are empowering their employees to make a difference while they are at work, not just after they leave. If we want to make the world a better place, part of that effort happens when we can create really great new ideas for our customers — ideas that make people more productive.

Uncopyable

By on September 22, 2011

3D customer thinking within organizations makes those companies very difficult to copy. The Customer 3D™ system takes customer-centricity to a new dimension by delivering real differentiation between your organization and the rest of the market.

Customer-Centric Wellness

By on August 10, 2011

Customer-centricity is an attitude, which can be compared with a company's wellness program. It is an effort that will bring about positive change in employees and elevate their confidence to take care of customer needs. It also becomes the foundation of better overall health for the organization.

Missing the Obvious

By on March 30, 2011

Instead of fine-tuning the status quo, customer-centered organizations find opportunities to make the process more valuable by solving consumers’ problems.

The Customer’s Customer

By on March 2, 2011

Solution-selling must be customer-centered. In order to be successful, it must make the primary customer’s product better in the eyes of the secondary customer. It has to be focused on the customer’s customer.

Remastering

By on February 2, 2011

The original customer relationship systems that you developed were acceptable 10-20-30 years ago are becoming obsolete. Remastering, however, is available through new systems that replace mechanistic, product-centric cultures with more organic, customer-centric versions.

Customers’ Perceptions of You

By on December 8, 2010

There is a pattern in all of the four pictures of Matisse, which allows the viewer to recognize him. Likewise, in organizations there is a wholeness, which is recognizable by customers. This wholeness is the real nature that determines everything about the organization.

Superficial Relationships

By on December 1, 2010

Customer-centered organizations create a deeper relationship with customers. By moving beyond a product-centric, “A to B” mentality, their culture of continuous improvement for all of their customers builds a more substantive relationship. They are legendary, rather than ordinary.

Customer by Committee

By on November 3, 2010

Organizations don’t need a committee to decide what makes sense for the customer. They need guiding principles that will permit freedom to design great ideas, but with an unmistakable gauge—the customer.

The First Day of School

By on August 26, 2010

First-time customers offer a unique opportunity to gauge the quality of the customer experience that you offer. Use VOC feedback from this group to enhance the experience for all customers--new and returning.

Customers Who Tolerate Us

By on August 4, 2010

“Because customers tolerate it” is no longer an acceptable reason in any forward-thinking organization. It is one thing to talk about customer care; it is a completely different approach to share the journey with those customers by providing them with what they need and expect.

Running to Stand Still

By on July 14, 2010

Companies should be asking: What things are our customers missing that we could give them (which will make us really different)? Being customer-centered is the essence of differentiation.

Lessons from Frank Lloyd Wright

By on July 7, 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright believed that buildings (like customer-centric companies) should fit into their environments, rather than the other way around. Wright said, “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill--belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”

Don’t Paint by the Numbers

By on June 30, 2010

Formulaic lists about how to succeed in business are too prescriptive. Instead, go back to the basic needs that your customers are asking to be filled and work forward from that point. Produce intelligence that leads to meaningful answers about how the customer will prosper.

Customer Emergence

By on June 16, 2010

Design thinking is purposeful. It is the optimistic way of the future, focused on discovering and implementing new ideas for customers. In fact, design thinking can only be successful when it approached with a positive bias for customers.

What’s Missing?

By on April 7, 2010

The efforts of customer-centered organizations to move to the upside for customers inspires confidence—for customers and for employees. What’s missing in supplier-centric organizations is a system to design and deliver creative ideas that will improve the experiences of customers.

Can We Prove Customer-Centered Is Better?

By on March 17, 2010

Why should any supplier-centric organization switch to being customer-centric? It’s not difficult to imagine the arguments against the change: “Customer-centricity is an abstract idea. It involves a culture change. We prefer pragmatic results to ideology. Show us the benefits.”

Here's a look at the "Why" of customer-centricity.

Keeping Customers

By on March 10, 2010

There should be a process to regularly review performances for "good customers" rather than waiting for them to call in frustration, or, even worse, to leave without calling.

Keeping Pace with Customers

By on March 3, 2010

Make sure that your organization is prepared for change by putting some customer-centered monitors in place that will condition everyone to look for new ways by questioning the old ways. Set up a process to evaluate change on customers’ terms, not yours. It will be a great platform to start discussions of ways to strengthen your organization by consistently looking for ways to outperform.

Creating Customer-Centered Ideas

By on February 17, 2010

Our success in generating innovative customer-centered thinking becomes stronger when our "ability to make new combinations is heightened by our ability to see relationships.” As in a kaleidoscope. new patterns develop and create exciting combinations when the variety of experiences that our teams bring to the search lead to fresher ideas within our organizations.

Is Engagement the Answer?

By on February 10, 2010

The word "engagement" with customers is used too casually. In a customer-centered view, you would not “win” and “keep” customers, but rather, cooperate with them as partners for a single purpose.

The Best Fit with Your Customers

By on February 3, 2010

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 deep understanding and a high degree of flexibility because “fit” is judged by your delivery in its broadest, most proactive, sense.

Never Stand Still

By on January 13, 2010

No organization can afford to stand still. The best way to avoid inertia is to think like a customer. Because innovation is on a continuum, companies must constantly evaluate where they are.

The Soul of the Customer

By on November 25, 2009

Treat customers and non-customers with a spirit of generosity.

Lower Your Risk by Getting Close to Your Customers

By on November 18, 2009

High-performing companies use customer closeness in order to become "great innovators" and "ferocious defenders" of their position in the markets they serve.

Customer Complacency

By on November 11, 2009

The status quo is a funny concept. It is comforting and familiar, of course. In many cases, unfortunately, we are lulled into accepting what exists today and not realizing how much better it could be. We don't need to change the status quo every time. However, we need to challenge the status quo every time. […]

Customers Want Simplicity

By on November 4, 2009

Avoid complexity for your customers. The best way to prove yourself to them is to make their lives simpler.

Hyper-Loyalty

By on October 21, 2009

Why are there organizations with customers that are "off the charts" in their loyalty? Customer-centricity creates a symbiotic relationship with customers. Hyper-loyal customers have a passion for converting others to become members of their "club" so that others can have the same great experiences.

Customer-Centric Problem Handling

By on October 14, 2009

Research which we do for our clients indicates time and time again that customers who reported a problem and were delighted with the outcome have higher satisfaction than the ones who never experienced a problem at all. Why would any company simply want to break-even with these opportunities? Service recovery should energize the organization to become more customer-centered.

An Early Warning System

By on October 7, 2009

“There’s no such thing as good news or bad news. There’s only fast news and slow news.” Fast knowledge happens within organizations that are connected and proactively communicating with their customers. Every organization should have an early warning system. The best one is built around closeness with your customers.

Customer Certainty

By on September 16, 2009

If you are constantly looking at what your competitors are doing, you will simply end up imitating each other. Being customer-centered brings better clarity to organizations because it focuses them on thinking like a customer, instead of a competitor.

How to Answer Questions

By on September 9, 2009

Amazon.com continues to be a successful, strong brand because it always answers its business questions—strategic and day-to-day—with a solution that includes “the customer.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO,  has given the world insight into how he leads the Amazon organization through a series of interviews over the years. I believe the best is “The Institutional Yes” […]

Educated Customers

By on September 2, 2009

The organizations that will survive and thrive five years from now are the ones that have educated customers. That's because smart customers will remain loyal to suppliers that deliver high value. This value goes far beyond a generic product or service. It educates its customers as part of the relationship. Customer-centered suppliers understand this as […]

I Know All the Right Answers

By on August 19, 2009

Much of our client work involves assisting leaders in developing their organizations to become more customer-centered. But what if the leaders don't get it? What if they think they know all the right answers about customers already? A phrase that you hear a lot these days is "They don't know what they don't know". I […]

Extraordinary

By on August 12, 2009

There is a simple method for outperforming and growing your business. It involves what author Jim Champy describes as "finding something that you can do better than your competitors." Every process that touches your customers represents an opportunity to distinguish your organization as better in the eyes of your customers. Here's how you can identify […]

The Multiplier Effect (Part II)

By on August 5, 2009

It is fantastic news that great performance, grounded in being customer-centered, is available for every business if it wants it. It grows out of deliberate practice and design of an organization-wide culture to improve on behalf of your customers. There is another dimension of the multiplier effect that will add even more to your image […]

The Multiplier Effect (Part I)

By on August 5, 2009

The more you do something, the better you get at it. We are familiar with this concept in sports and music, because the more you practice, the better you become. The same thing applies in leading your organization to become more customer-centered. In economics, a multiplier effect describes the degree of change in one variable […]

Change We Can Believe In

By on July 22, 2009

I love it when people shake up the way we think. That is what we need in order to stay competitive in today's business environment. A growing number of new thought leaders are helping us to understand that the best approach to bringing about positive change is to structure our actions around being customer-centered. Pip […]

Right-Brain Business Goals (II)

By on July 15, 2009

Right-brain thinking will not take you to the next level without distinct business goals. The right-brain approach has always been a metaphor for intuitive, innovative, big-picture decision-making. With specific goals, this underutilized perspective will accelerate your business growth and customer commitment. Every successful organization needs specific customer-centered goals. These go far beyond narrowly thinking of […]

Right-Brain Business Goals (I)

By on July 8, 2009

Much has been written recently about right-brain thinking—and it is long overdue. Business has traditionally been left-brained, but its ability to search for greater efficiencies and to innovate while lowering costs has reached a plateau. The new opportunity to take performance to the next level is through right-brain thinking. A shift to this approach signifies […]

Designing a Better Future

By on July 1, 2009

When I conduct client workshops I often ask participants this question: What could your competitors be developing for your customers right now that you don't currently offer? We know it is impossible to draw an accurate picture of the future. As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." But we continue […]

Be Notable

By on June 17, 2009

The greatest challenge of escaping the sameness of your product or service is to stay ahead of what your direct competition offers. Adjust the space that you operate in. That is, design and sustain a service that is truly different from the rest of your market segment. The key, of course, is to make certain […]

Loyalty Programs are Changing

By on June 10, 2009

Last week, I attended the Loyalty Expo, a showcase of the prominent suppliers using incentive rewards programs to drive their business growth. The good news is that some of the companies that are using these points programs are looking at new ways to drive loyalty by becoming more relevant and customer-centered. The old models are […]

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 […]

Context is a Big Advantage (Part I)

By on May 27, 2009

We have all experienced the paradox that "the more successful a company becomes, the more likely it is to become removed from customer segments." (The Open-Empathy Organization, Dev Patnaik and Peter Mortensen, from Rotman Magazine, Spring 2009). If the phrase "taken out of context" has negative overtones (as it should) of misquoting, bad information and […]

The Age of Engage

By on May 20, 2009

The next great opportunity to drive customer closeness is optimizing the recognition of your most loyal customers. We live in the "age of engage", so success depends on developing an individualized relationship with important upper tier clients and an environment that encourages outstanding performance for this key subgroup of very committed customers. Ask yourself this […]

The Quiet Revolution

By on April 22, 2009

Many well-intentioned companies tell us that they want to exceed our expectations. Unfortunately, in many cases, we are used to "unexpected" service at the transactional level, when, for example, an employee from a business provides us with great service. Now, what was once unexpected has become simply table stakes in the drive to differentiate your organization […]

Customer-Centered Strategy

By on April 15, 2009

What if you developed a specific strategy that focused your organization on becoming more customer-centered? It would take your organization to a new dimension, where you will outperform your competitors in the eyes of your customers. Most companies tell themselves that their strategy is to make profits or maximize return to their shareholders. This is not a […]

Short-Term Thinking

By on March 25, 2009

Short-term thinking has plagued businesses for years, but in today's economic conditions, it is even more dangerous. Now is the time for change, not to stand still. Organizations in a survival mode resort to quick fixes such as downsizing and postponing expenses. Their leaders don't realize that they cannot recycle the ideas of the past […]

The Potential Product

By on March 11, 2009

Everything-products or services-can be enhanced to perform better than it does today. Rather than thinking about what the service currently looks like, envision what it can be in the future. The secret is to approach it from the user's viewpoint--by thinking like a customer. Harvard professor Ted Levitt defined this development process 40 years ago […]

The Most Important Question

By on February 25, 2009

The most important question that every organization must answer is "Exactly how is the customer changing?" Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison, in The Profit Zone: How Strategic Business Design Will Lead You to Tomorrow's Profits, challenged businesses: "To create a strategic and dynamic perspective on the customer, one must have a clear and compelling point of […]

Satisfactionable

By on February 11, 2009

Why do satisfaction surveys have such a bad name? Because very little is ever done with the majority of them. And why is nothing done with them? Because the results are not actionable. Larry Bossidy in Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters to Get Things Right warns against shallow, "one-size-fits-all" surveys that are typically designed by the […]

A Well-Defined Future

By on January 14, 2009

Organizations will not be successful by making old ways more efficient. The competitive environment is changing so rapidly that a lean cost structure is no longer a differentiator. Instead, the advantage going forward will go to the companies that can develop a solidly different vision that tests their decisions based on what is best for […]

That Sounds Familiar

By on December 3, 2008

Technology is advancing so quickly that there is a risk customers will not accept it or, at least, not like it. My wife and I were in a casino recently playing the slot machines for fun (certainly not for profit!). The devices, of course, were electronic and took cash, magnetic cards or casino-approved receipts in […]

A New Word

By on November 5, 2008

Sometimes you need to invent a word to describe something that has not actually been well-defined before. Sometimes you need to invent a word to describe something that you really care about. I had the great fortune to meet a team leader in the service industry recently at her job. She was the perfect combination […]