Friday, February 20, 2009

customer-centric

Policy in business, trade, and commerce must never come from top down, must always be from bottom (The People/Users) up. We determine all. It's a user-generated content world now, and growing more so every day. Our content comes with its own rules, politics, and faith.

People pay less attention to ads and slogans, and turn more to each other for information on products. Business communications lack credibility, from brochures to websites. It's a new information world now, and corporations don't control it.

Marketing is bringing news about a product to those who have a problem the product can solve. The customer always knows more about using a product than the company does. User experience creates "brand" = how it solves customer problems or enhances their life.

Ad agencies create slogans, not brands. Brands are not euphorias (feelings ad agencies want you to associate with a product) or positions (mental definitions of a product and why it's better than the competitors).

Brand is what's burned in your head as you use a product to accomplish a goal or task or to assuage a gratification.
You don't give a damn what the jingle or paid celebrity says: your experience of the product in action is what forms your ultimate opinion of it, even though the ads may have tricked you into buying it once.

Thus, users create the "brand", the image and words ("This sucks!" or "I love this!") associated with using the product, as they use it. Even though sometimes fashionability beats usability, still, if a fad item is too unusable or dysfunctional, trendiness will be demoted and a better item will be searched for by the disenchanted customer.

If the user-generated "branding/burning in mind" does not jive with the ad agency "branding" they attempt to impose, sales won't increase over the long term, and credibility will be impaired and difficult to regain.

Your customers are the real CEO of your company. It's their vision and dreams that create products, via manufacturers to whom fulfillment of user needs has priority over profits. Be user-focused, customer-centric.

Customer service, when done correctly, provides vast amounts of valid and actionable intelligence about the market and future trends, as they arise in the minds and hearts of consumers interacting with each other globally.

The heart of your company is never the mission statement. It's the needs and complaints and desires and nostalgia of your customers. These are the elements that drive your business goals, if you wish to survive and succeed.

Ignore your CEO for a while.

Start conversations with current customers and competitor loyalists and uncommitted average consumers of your products.

Get your advertising ideas from users, not universities.

Get your innovation concepts from customers, not business book best-sellers.

Get your sales techniques from knowing how customers feel about sales people and learn to listen to the way your customers would prefer to be sold: to be helped, not bullied or scammed.

Your customers will even give you the words you need for your website, after a professional edits them a bit.

Customer-centric.

The secret to business survival.



1 comment:

mbuechele said...

Not bad, but you always generalize and polarize rather than catch the nuances and flux.

Which policies? Most internal policies must come from the top down and inspire with vision. If an employee isn’t seriously invested with what they’re doing then it becomes a JOB (just over broke) and you’re not looking to make a big impact on the world.

“The customer always knows more about using a product than the company does” I know product managers that have amazingly detailed knowledge about the product lines they lead. Clients use products in different ways and the product manager needs to be able to teach them best ways and learn from them as well. It's both sides.

“If the user-generated "branding/burning in mind" does not jive with the ad agency "branding" they attempt to impose, sales won't increase over the long term, and credibility will be impaired and difficult to regain” The Flip camera proves that it doesn’t happen all the time. They have a huge blogging audience but they didn’t enlist them for marketing, yet they own a great piece of the market. Could they have been bigger if they acknowledge the bloggers? Sure, but at the same time they had no problem increasing sales and have a good brand.

“It's their vision and dreams that create products” Again, not always true. Read Blue Ocean. There are products out there that no user asked for until it was available and they saw it fixed a problem or improved a situation. Sliced bread and home computers are great examples. Some entrepreneurs are ahead of the times.

“Get your sales techniques from knowing how customers feel about sales people and learn to listen to the way your customers would prefer to be sold: to be helped, not bullied or scammed.” The best salespeople I know are the ones that have relationships with their clients. The old “bullied or scammed” is used car salesman techniques from the 1950s.