Friday, March 28, 2014

Is Customer one of the Biggest Influencers of Decisions in your Enterprise?

Business decision makers must not only take outside-in customers' viewpoint, but also zoom in the future to capture the next wave of business trends to win over customers in the future.

Being customer-centric means to really live on the mantra everyone is already familiar with: “Customer is King or Queen”, take look at the business via outside-in customer’s lens, and build business capabilities to optimize customer experience. However, to what extent do you feel comfortable to make customers one of the biggest influencers of decisions in your organization?

Customer is still the key element of any business, as they pay for your products, and if you do not have paying customers you do not have a business. To continue to attract more customers and grow you business, you need to definitely be concerned about how your company delivers and that will have a whole gamut of people and things. Likewise, if customers are not buying your products or services, then the organization may not survive in the long run, thus, customers should be influencing organizational strategy. A common practice to on-board a C-suite is to have the C-suite talk to the top ten customers and beyond.

To put simply, the objective of organizational strategy is to gain a competitive advantage and to win customers for long term. Winning requires meeting the customer on the consumption chain with products and services that (1) create value, (2) are unique, and (3) are difficult to imitate. Therefore, if customers are buying your products or services, then customers should be influencing the organizations’ net promoter score (NPS) and influencing organizational strategy, which is aligned with the financial management, marketing management, operations management, and people management strategies throughout the organization.

Customer’s feedback is surely important, but merely listening to customers can be dangerous, only meeting customers’ current need with ignorance of disruptive marketing or technological trends, businesses may completely miss the demise of their industry despite the perfection of their product. Or in a B2B environment there's the risk that a large customer can 'hijack' your agenda by exerting pressure to get things their way...which might not serve the needs of the rest of your customer base, or your profit goals. Organizations must heed the demands of the markets while never ceasing to evaluate future options...even at the expense of the current customer base.

 Products and services follow a S-curve or product life cycle (PLC). At the top of the S-Curve, growth matures and flattens. Therefore, it is very important to know a product and/or service's position on the S-Curve when developing a portfolio of strategic initiatives. After all, the purpose of strategy is to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Any product / service follows a product life cycle (PLC) where it grows, matures and finally declines. PLC underpins the fact that old products / services need to terminated and new products/services are developed to replace them. PLC emphasizes the need for planning of a balanced product /service array. An organization with all the mature products may be profitable today, but as it enters the decline stage, profits may fall and the organization may become unstable. A balanced mix of products / services would ensure that some are in mature stage, a number in growth stage, with the prospects of new ones in near future.

Customers are key influencer of decision making, but it is not the only factor to make the effective decisions for business’s growth, business decision makers must not only take outside-in customer’s viewpoint, but also zoom in the future to capture the next wave of business trends and build the solid strategy to win over the future.


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