Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other consumer-centric companies all follow the maxim that what’s best for the customer is best for the business. A study of top consumer-focused organizations by Harvard Business Review found several factors that, when practiced and embedded, can help your company re-focus for better customer relationships and sustained company growth. Compare your work culture with HBR’s best consumer-centric practices to find out where you can improve:
- Customer Insight. Does your company have a deep understanding of its current customer’s needs? The Chateau Elan Resort in Georgia clients’ expects every staff member to be able to assist with a wide range of needs, from booking a restaurant reservation to ordering more towels for the room. This empowers staff to work together to be able to address any type of request.
- Customer Foresight. Can your company anticipate its customer’s changing needs? Salesforce.com knew that Stanley Black and Decker wants to be an industry leader, so they created innovative technology for SBD that allowed them to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot problems on customers’ mobile devices.
- Competitor Insight. Does your company understand and respond to its competitors’ strengths and weaknesses? The Virgin Group constantly establishes itself in different industries with the insight that their fun, energetic value proposition can disrupt incumbency.
- Competitor Foresight. Does your company actively consider potential competitors when making decisions about customers? Apple was looking to supply both the reading device (iPad) and reading material via its iBookstore. Amazon had the foresight to develop the Kindle and remain the leading supplier of books and book reading devices.
- Peripheral Vision. Are your teams actively encouraged to signal threats and opportunities observed in the external environment? Google Glass is the essence of peripheral vision–it incorporates cutting edge technology and innovation from internal ideation, partners, and acquisitions.
- Cross-Functional Collaboration. Are your people working cross-functionally to deliver better customer service? IKEA’s recruitment is based on ability to work with people and collaborate first, skills second. High-performing employees who can’t work with others are let go.
- Strategic Alignment. Do your teams fully understand and buy into the company’s vision, values, and strategy? Westpac developed a new vision to “delight customers,” and created customer measurement systems and trained staff in order to create alignment around the vision for effective execution.
Takeaway: Customer needs are the most vital component of your company’s performance. Check in with your company’s values and vision to make sure the consumer’s needs are considered in every decision.