This week my thoughts are about giving thanks for everything we have to be grateful for, and in our business lives this starts with our customers. As Peter Drucker said, customers are the main reason we’re in business and the only real reason companies exist. Without them we wouldn’t even have a business. So what can you do today to thank your customers? A good start would be to commit your entire business to be more customer-centric. This includes: your employees, the products and services you provide, the processes you utilize and your suppliers and more.
What are the key elements of a customer centric business model? Consider the following graphic describing Proctor & Gamble’s approach to being customer centric from The Game Changer by A.G. Lafley & Ram Charan.
What does this tell us about building a successful customer-centric business? Let’s look at each element to see:
Motivating Purpose & Values – this connects directly to the Core Values and Core Purpose any business has and strives to protect. In this context, identify those values your customers most value in doing business with your company. Call a few of your best customers today and ask them this question. While you’re at it, ask them what problems or challenges they are wrestling with and determine what you can do to help solve them by being innovative.
Stretching Goals – Set a small number of stretch goals that are reasonably achievable that solve customer problems but require your company to innovate.
Choiceful Strategies – This focuses on execution. Develop practical strategies to achieve the stretch goals you have developed. P&G puts innovation at the center of their planning process to enable them to see the key strategic choices necessary to be customer-centric. Resource constraints need to identified early on and addressed or your people will never achieve the stretch goals you have established.
Unique Core Strengths – Understand your company’s Hidden Assets that are unique and leverage them to add more value to your customers. Now that you understand your goals and execution strategies, find and leverage your key strengths that develop a competitive advantage for your business.
Enabling Structures – It is critical to establish an organizational culture that supports your strategies and core strengths. P&G found out that this meant being more externally focused and less vertically integrated. Think about a structure for your business that brings external ideas and resources inside to allow you to innovate faster and cheaper.
Consistent & Reliable Systems – Develop a consistent process for customer-centric innovation that you can manage and support. Don’t allow this effort to be anymore chaotic than it inherently already is.
Courageous & Connected Culture – Drive the fear out of your organization and support your employees’ abilities to innovate and solve customer problems. Commit to become a forward-looking company that values innovation and transforms itself to meet external changes in markets, products and customers.