Is customer-centric business the future?

In the last 12 years, the credo of my business life was “Customer First!”. It surprises and disappoints me when I experience poor customer service. Or when I hear from unhappy friends, colleagues or relatives telling me stories about how companies treat the centre of their business: customers.

Last week, when I was thinking about how to leverage this to a higher level, I came across a modern business strategy vision by Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business School professor and author of the book “Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business“. In the following video Gulati tells us how to deliver what customers really want.

Reorienting vs. Reorganizing
Ranjay Gulati sees the fundamental changes appropriate for some movement in company processes. Customers have more information, more choices on products while companies are facing global competition. So, businesses have to think about their business (not only marketing or sales efforts!) and how it operates.

Redefining vs. Reinventing
The analysis of the customer base might show that the website is designed for male while the majority of the users might be female. So, we need to ask questions like “Who are my customers?”, “How do my customers shop?”, or “What do they really want?”.

Gulati explains with the latest success of Best Buy how women and men shop. At that point, he also hints to the upsale opportunity of recommendations.

Success for businesses, he believes, comes from “Inside-Out-Perspective”. Companies don’t have to produce everything themselves but need to make the client happy like Apple with the iPhone. 90% of the inputs are not made by Apple. The same occurs to the apps in the Apple store where Apple basically just orchestrates the customers wishes.

“Make this identity shift. I am not here to sell what I produce – I am here to solve a set of customer problems (…) and actually acting on that!”

How to get to a customer-centric business…
1. Shifting mindset: the intention to solve customer problems.
2. Sense of curiosity and humility: the wish to understand your customers.
3. Make a creative leap: the will to understand their needs.
4. Align the elements in the organization: the motivation to live the customer-centric business.

Spot On!
Interested to get your view on this modern business strategy. Let us know what you think about customer-centric business. Or do you think the social web will be leading us towards this business process anyway?

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