When Companies Think Like Customers

by Jay Deragon on 09/24/2012

If the company could think like a customer what would change?  Everything!

Historically the customer has been the person at the end of the value chain. The value chain—as it has been defined by marketing consultants—meant that organizations directed their efforts at a customer outside the perimeter…you know outside of the corporate thinking and the walls designed to protect that thinking.

In the old days the organization made things and told the buyer that it was good, and the buyer bought…or used to, without being influenced by other customers. The marketing gurus aimed at capturing and trapping the customer into a purchase and that was the game plan, or still is, of most organizations.  Put the game is changing…..

The Customer Doesn’t Think Like Your Company

Doc Dearls writes: Put down the customer. Step away from the marketplace. Thats what Craig Burton once said to a clueless marketing officer at a meeting we both attended a few years back. It was one of the most right-on things I have ever heard uttered inside a company. It also comes to mind every time I hear unwanted surveillance of customers rationalized for marketing purposes, or how Big Data lets a company know a customer better than she knows herself.

We hear lots of that jive lately, and it makes full sense only to business people talking to other business people. To most customers its creepy, regardless of how many Chief Experience Officers get hired, or how many sales pieces lauding “the Chief Executive Customer” get distributed.Whats rarely heard amidst all this talk about customer intelligence is the customers own voice, expressing her own agency as an independent actor in the marketplace. Instead many companies continue to talk to themselves about “acquiring” “managing,” “controlling” and “locking in” customers — and to create systems for that, described with marketing euphemisms that fool vendor and customer alike. via Free Customers Are More Valuable than Captive Ones – Doc Searls – Harvard Business Review.

Learning to Think Like A Customer

Most organization have either never thought about their purpose or lost its purpose in the pursuit of revenue. An organization with a purpose makes customers and employees more than transactions and payroll recipients. It allows both customers and employees to “tear down that wall” between who is in or outside the firm, creating a common way to think about work and the meaning it creates for people whether customer or employee.  Creating a common  purpose is a fundamental way to create value in the new era of business, the social era.

These fundamental changes will enable organizations to think like customers and subsequently create more value for all stakeholders than ever before. After all value is fundamental to creating and fulfilling all purposes.

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