Sunday, July 22, 2018

Who really is the Customer?

As straightforward as this question may seem, it engenders a wide variety of answers that tend to be murky. The real answer is clear. A customer is someone who has a choice on what to buy, external to the company, and a choice of where to buy it.  As it relates to your company, a customer pays you with money to help you stay in business by purchasing your products.  For these simple factors, engaging the customer is of utmost importance.
Most companies like to say that "customer is king" and some indeed are.  But if you ask those in a company when was the last time they actually talked to customers, many say rarely or never. As bizarre as it may sound, there are challenges that companies have in relation to engaging with customers.

The first challenge is that the term “Customer” is being applied to a number of people “internal” to the company who are not really Customers. This means they don’t pay and bring revenue to the company. Instead, they are really internal stakeholders or partners. When you incorrectly title someone a customer when they are not, then when you apply Agile, it will not really be customer value-driven as you are not using actual customer feedback to drive toward customer value.

The second challenge is that some companies do not really engage their customers to get their feedback to understand what they find valuable.  This is often for two reasons. The first is that there is pretend or arrogant certainty from those in the company on what they think is customer value so they don’t really think they need to engage with customers. The second is that the company optimizes for sticking with the plan over adapting to customer feedback. In both cases, this prevents the opportunity of gaining valuable customer feedback. 

The key to engaging customers is to gain their valuable customer input and feedback.  The input and feedback should be the basis for driving a majority of your decisions and setting the direction of the product. As you look to build a customer value-driven engine within your enterprise, the customer or more specifically, customer feedback, is the “driver” that steers the engine of customer value.  The more you incorporate the customer at the center of your company, the more likely you will have satisfied customer and greater business success.

Learn if you incorporate customer feedback with the Empty Customer Chairs technique at: 


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