Establish a new business that endures over a long time is hard. We all know the statistics; 80 % of companies fail within the first 2-3 years.
Business strategists like to think in portfolio terms. Whether it’s a question of cash cows versus rising stars or of businesses that prosper at different points in an economic cycle, it’s useful to have a framework for analyzing the mix and balancing investments wisely.
What separates the businesses that sustain from those that wither away? Customer obsession. These companies have found a problem worth solving, a need that must be filled, and customers willing to pay. It all sounds simple.
What happens when these businesses grow up?
Over time their success breeds complacency. They no longer have to fight to win every customer; customers come to them; life is good. Leaders become managers and get paid to manage things already in place. The focus becomes the numbers, and the tail begins to wag the dog.
It all goes well until the music stops; the tide goes out, and companies are exposed. Suddenly new products or services start failing not because they are bad products or services but because customers have lost trust. Managers have not been paying attention to the real source of revenue and profits – loyal customers.
Things have changed, growth has stalled, reputations decline, and customers are walking away.
Time for some customer-centricity.
The time has come to take a hard look at the business, how we are operating, what needs to change. We need to shift to a more customer-centric way of doing business!
Where do we start? How do we make it happen?
Like any and every major accomplishment in human history, everything great begins with one step forward.
In this case, that step is to take a realistic view of exactly how customer-centric you are as a business. For many that small step maybe a step too far: they don’t want to know.
Feedback hurts – it can feel like a knife twisting, gauging a hole in our being. It instills fear, even panic in us. And yet it is the truth, the way we perceive things is the way they are no matter what stories we want to tell ourselves.
So why do leaders say they want their businesses to be customer-centric but are not willing to take the first step?
Fear of failure.
Fear that it will distract.
Fear that it cannot be sustained.
Fear that they cannot do anything to change.
So what is the antidote to all this fear?
Just do it.
A funny thing happens when you face your fears – you grow.
The shift towards becoming a truly customer-centric organization is both complex and long but, do not be put off by this as even the smallest changes to policy and processes can have a significant benefit for both employees and your customer.
Being a customer-centric organization is the Holy Grail towards unlocking the true potential of customer value. Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer and minimize customer effort and maximize customer value.