January 8th, 2009
“We’re becoming more customer centric”.
Many managers speak these words with the vacant demeanor of a politician regurgitating their party’s least credible talking points. They haven’t bought in, but not because they don’t want to.
Privately, they all express doubts. If you too are harboring doubts, you’re in abundant company.
Here are the two things that managers say most often undermine the journey to Customer CentriCity and what to do about them…
1. The way to Customer CentriCity is through your boss. There are a plethora of excellent writings about the influences of leadership on employee behavior and innovativeness. Your boss determines your job stability, promotability and income, not the customer. So, when the boss starts talking about moving to Customer CentriCity, subordinates quickly begin calculating the vectors between what their boss wants and what the customer wants.
Enlightened leaders create an innovation space where subordinates can gain an unimpeded view of the customer. Subordinates can collaborate, research, ideate, prioritize and design (click on each link to learn more) freely in this space. If you’ve got a good relationship with your boss, then you should mutually define this space. If not, then strap on your hip waders and wait for your boss to come up with the next great customer centric idea.
2. No firm can be exclusively customer-centric. That’s because the customer’s job is to demand the greatest value for the lowest price. Your company’s ROI has to be factored into any new products, services or customer experience that you innovate and commercialize. The optimal location for innovation is between Customer CentriCity and ROI land. Finding that location is part of the prioritization process.
We welcome your reactions, points of view and criticisms.
Jason M. Sherman is president of Cleveland-based, Whyze Group. Whyze Group provides qualitative, customer- and user-experience research and innovation workshops to Global 2000 clients. The company has been recognized by the Baldrige National Quality Program, business associations and numerous business media as a leader in research and innovation.
Jason direct: (440) 785-0547.
Entry Filed under: Qualitative Insight into Customer Experience