Customer Focus matters. It has always mattered, it will always matter. But why is it so relevant at this point in time? Customer focus is extremely important at this moment because the customer landscape is changing as well as the whole society.
These are the reasons why it is important to dedicate time, energy and resources to customer focus, now:
- the power has shifted from vendor to customer. In the past, the vendor controlled the information on its organization, products and services and controlled the channel used to communicate. That has changed dramatically over the last decade. Customers do now have the power, primarily driven by the transparency of internet.
- there is an overflow of information. Nowadays, information is freely available and can be distributed and multiplied at no significant cost. Plus anybody can create information which leads to credibility issues. Bottom line, customers are confused by the enormous flow of information and cannot judge what to believe and what not.
- there is a shortage of attention. We have automated a lot of customer related tasks and continu to do so. Human resources have been cut more and more, the latest cut was due to the financial crisis. Less people, means less attention. Plus that the people that are still working in customer related environments have to do more and more.
- products and services are less different. Globalization and the transparency of internet has uncovered the many competitors that there are for your organization. Even if a competitor is outside your geographical reach, it can inspire and educate the customer in what he needs (or at least, thinks he needs). On top of that is the high quality standard which is today’s norm. For example, there are no bad cars anymore. Products and services are less a differentiator. Have a look of cars, PC’s or shopping stores around the world.
- individualism is a trend. A trend more on society level is the on-going trend to individualize. We feel that everyone has its own responsibility and do not feel the obligation anymore to help.
The economic crisis and the ubiquitousness of information are the drivers why confused customers have the power now. You can differentiate your organization and its products and services by giving authetentic and undivided attention to customers and help them buy (instead of sell to them). The time is right, now.