THEME: New Year, New Challenges
FOCUS: The Customer
Monday morning: February 1, 2010
In the September 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine, Anne Busquet , President of American Express Relationship Services, wrote, “Many people believe that we have entered the age of the internet. Actually it’s more accurate to say that we’re living in the age of the customer. Make no mistake: Customers are in control today. They have access to more information than ever before, and they can retrieve it faster than ever before. There has never been a better time to be a customer - or a more demanding time to be a company.”
Over a decade later, customers are still in control and it still is a demanding time to be a company. Our challenge this year is to understand that we are no longer operating in a product or service based economy. Andrea Ayers surveyed 2,000 customers, 1,592 employees and 127 senior executives across 10 major industry segments in the United States and in United Kingdom and reported the results in her article called “What Your Customers Are Really Telling You” in the September/October 2009 issue of Chief Executive Magazine. As she wrote, “The results tell us that we have shifted from a service economy to the experience economy, where customers are in control, brands are becoming commodities and successful companies create superior experiences. Customers have more power in the marketplace than ever before, but they are harder to reach, harder to impress and more likely to take their business elsewhere without notice.”
In previous decades, companies compartmentalized everything from product creation straight through to sales and services. But nowadays, the customer is no longer willing to tolerant fragmentation. They are in control and want to be partners in the process.
The solution in 2010 is to differentiate our business by developing a unique relationship with our customers. Through real time data, integrated products and authentic service, we need to develop unified experiences. This will be very difficult because we must create an organizational culture, plus on-going services experiences, that can work with the “Nintendo Generation”, “Baby Boom Generation” and the “GI Generation.”
The first step is make sure your company has the ability to plan and the capacity to execute what has been planned. Realizing that many senior executives are recovering controlaholics, this may not be easy but it is essential. We also must have employees who believe in what they are doing, engaged in doing it better every time, and willing to explore new ways of working at the conceptual level and the tactics level.
If you can dream it, you also need to build it. If you build it, they may not come unless that have been part of the process. This is the new normal.
This week understand that what we learned in 1999 is directly connected to what we are learning in 2009. The customer will continue to evolve. Our organizations must do so as well.
Have an outstanding week,
Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change
Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257