Saturday, April 14, 2012

What does the customer do?

Outward looking organizations
Implementation of processes including completely internal facing process are ultimately to serve our customer. To achieve this end goal of serving end customers, the process has to in some way enhance efficiency or result in productivity, which would enable the organization to serve the customer better. Today the customer also expects a quicker turn around time on services. There is a pressure on prices and margins in almost every competitive industry, hence these efficiency and productivity gains are also expected to result in better pricing points for the customer. Faster, better, cheaper anyone?

Is this enough?
So, organizations have traditionally been 'outward looking' in setting themselves up in terms of people, process and system. However, is it sufficient to be termed outward looking? Should we not also be concerned about what kind of outside view are we tuned towards? The direction of this outward looking view or the fine-tuning of how well acquainted we are with our customers needs should be of prime interest.

What we are saying here is that while we did have an outside-in view in the organization's activities, we had been designing these processes, systems and structures thinking 'what do we want to do for our customer' rather than 'what does the customer want to do (period)'.

Not 'what the customer wants us to do'. Not 'what the customer wants to do with our products and services'. Not even 'what the cutomer wants to do on our e-biz site'. No No and yet again an emphatic No.

Just plain and simple 'what does the customer want to do (period)'.

In order to discover what the customer wants to do, we have to, of course, study - what does the customer do? It has to become our business to know the customer's business. And I am talking both B2B as well as B2C here.
As an airline I have to think, as a individual or corporate customer, when planning to go from point A to point B, what would be the expectation in terms of safety, comfort and convenience. What experiences would I value  most? This goes beyond the ease of ticketing and check-ins.
As an electronics retailer, I would need to think beyond how do I serve the individual and corporate customer better in terms of ordering, delivery, billing. I need to go into the territory of why the customer is buying what he is buying. What will she do with this device? Am I helping the customer make the right choice best suited for his needs?

Any examples or comments that spring to mind?