Focus on your customers. Seems obvious, right? So why do so many companies act as though they are ignoring their customers?
Could it be they are taking a hint from the playbook that says, "customers don't know what they want" or "customers only want more of what they already have"?
Well, if we know better than customers what they are going to want, why don't we succeed with hit products the majority of the time? (Assuming that no company or brand is 100% infallible). According to multiple sources, some 30,000 new products are launched annually and anywhere from 80 to 90% fail.
Innovation in product and service is the core lifeblood of our consumer society, without question. And by definition, innovation is going to be hit or miss, because we are developing things that have never existed before, and it is impossible to read the future to know if an innovation will be a hit or not.
I am not trying to argue for the need for innovation, a given, nor offer a surefire method to come up with hit products. What if there was a better way to stay relevant with consumers and the market by understanding how they think, what their values are, and gaining hints about how their behaviors are changing. Wouldn't this be a key to figuring our how consumers want to be thrilled?
It is time to sharpen our focus on customers, and the best way to do that is to put them at the center of your business model. By interacting directly with both customers and potential customers, you can come to understand how they are thinking about a myriad of things in order to gain the valuable insights that can better help monetize innovations.
By putting customers in the center of your business model, and implementing multiple communication and interaction channels and technologies, you keep customers engaged and (hopefully) participatory. You can encourage customers to join a discussion about the paradigm where the brand lives. You can offer customers maximum flexibility for purchase and delivery, based on assumptions, but are we infallible in our assumptions? I would argue that companies and brands that don't take steps to reach out directly to consumers are asking to be relegated to the forgotten and irrelevant shelf
Implementing a customer centric business model or paradigm starts with C-suite level recognition that customer experience is the absolute goal of any digital or other transformation. And it is a whole lot more than opening or re-training a call center. Companies and brands need to take a new view of why they are or want to be relevant to the fast changing consumer landscape.