Survey says: Customer Focused Culture Key in 2011

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We recently conducted a survey of enterprise decision makers to get an understanding of the major issues facing global 5000 businesses as they prepare to leave 2010 and enter 2011.

In some ways, the results weren’t surprising, yet in one particular way they were. While generating actionable insights is shown to be a key imperative for 2011, the most important is “changing the organizational culture to focus on voice of the customer.”

This surprises me. I would have expected to have learned that companies already recognize that a customer-centric culture is key to success. I read about this everywhere. Maybe I’m too focused on this as an issue, but I know I’m not the only one.

A partner of ours, Walker, publishes a market index of companies who focus on their customers. More specifically, they track the performance of publically traded Walker customers. This Walker Index demonstrates the value of being customer centric, and Walker Index companies outperform the general market by 5 to 1.

One company who lives customer centricity is Best Buy. I’m a customer of theirs, nearly. I’d been having problems with my GPS and, rather than buy a new one, I decided to troubleshoot the problem to see whether I only needed to replace a cable, at much lower cost. Even though I didn’t originally buy the item from Best Buy, I called the nearest store to ask if they could help.

They didn’t even ask if I’d bought it there, but told me to come down and the Geek Squad would be happy to help me out, which they were. The gentleman behind the counter suggested, as part of the troubleshooting, that I purchase a cable from them and he’d test it on his bench. If it didn’t work, he said I could return it immediately. Apparently they have a ‘closed or opened’ return policy. Who knew?

So I talked to a sales rep, who told me to go ahead and try but predicted that the cable wasn’t the problem, the cradle that connects the cable to the GPS device was going to turn out to be the problem. Only they don’t sell the cradles.

I bought the cable, tested it at the Geek Squad, and returned it, all within a very short space of time.
I ended up buying the replacement cradle elsewhere, and while it took longer than I (or my wife) would have liked, we now have a working GPS in the car again.

And Best Buy didn’t make a penny on me in this transaction, but they treated me as though I’d been a long-standing, loyal customer—which I will be.

You see, I’m in the market for a home theater system, and I already know where I’m heading to purchase it, just after Thanksgiving.

Customer centricity rules.

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