Are companies focused on their customers? A basic tenet of business is to address the needs of your target market, and one way to ensure that it happens is to spend an inordinate amount of time watching and listening to your customers. The real key, to guarantee business success, is how this feedback is translated into actions, ones that make products and services better in the eyes of the target market.
I found executives to effuse profoundly on a number of corporate topics: revenue, profitability, and market share growth. However, conspicuous by its absence from this list is anything related to customer focus. It is generally relegated to a second tier, despite the fact that it is included in business plans, annual reports and PowerPoint presentations. Under further inspection, it looks like many companies provide mere lip service to the concept of customer centricity. I learned that generally these focused activities are lacking in most firms, but previously I didn’t possess the support for my assertion.
Recently, however, the CMO Council released the results of their landmark study, Profitability from Customer Affinity, which vindicated me. Although corporations continue to believe that they are extremely customer focused, the report’s results provide a different perspective. Some of the revelations from the report are:
- 56% of vendors viewed themselves as extremely customer centric, yet only 12% of customers agreed;
- 85% of vendors believe they are getting better at meeting their customers’ requirements, while 45% of customers don’t agree;
- Almost 60% of customers felt that co-innovation was extremely or very important and another 30% believed that was at least somewhat important.
This report is available for purchase from the CMO Council, and reading it would be a good first step. However, for those organizations that aim to sustain and grow their businesses, it will be the actions taken that result in better products or services, ones that increases the customer’s experience with them, which will be the true litmus test of customer focus.