Do you have “Lighthouse Customers?”
Lighthouse Customers are critical for every organization. They are organizations in which we have very close relationships. They are important to our business, not necessarily for their business volume—more on that later. We are important to their business.
Lighthouse customers give us the opportunity to really learn. They help us develop new products and solutions. While we try to learn as much as we can about the evolving needs of a large number of our customers, there are a small number with whom we have deep relationships. Customers we use as sounding boards for thinking about new products, services and solutions. Organizations who give us great input throughout our development process. Organizations who give us great feedback about their experience with us. They are customers who may be our learning laboratories. They give us insight, which we can, in turn leverage in developing insight for our broader markets.
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Ideally, a lighthouse customer is a thought leader in their segment. Others in their industries pay attention to what they do. They don’t necessarily copy their strategies, but they watch what the lighthouse customer does.
Lighthouse customers are the opinion shapers, perhaps the trend setters. They are the “smart adopters,” though not necessarily the early adopters.
Typically, they are the highest performers — at least if we are smart in the Lighthouse customers we choose.
Lighthouse customers are help us develop insights we can leverage with other customers. We can learn from them–the things they think are important, the big trends or issues they see in the industry. Usually the things that are important to them today will be important to the rest of the industry tomorrow. So learning from them enables us to teach others.
Lighthouse customers go beyond this–they serve as powerful references as we teach other customers.
No we aren’t sharing confidential information or trade secrets, but there is a huge amount we can learn and share with others.
Do you know who your Lighthouse customers are? What are you learning from them? Are you transforming those learnings into commercial teaching for others?