Why Can’t Most Companies Identify Breakthrough Customer Strategies?

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Lots of talk about customer-centric strategies floating around. Even C-level execs spouting off bromides like, “Have to serve the customer first” (then why don’t you?),and “We put our customers on a pedestal” (because it’s easier to shoot them?), and my fave, “The customer is our master (oh really? where’s my leash?).

I judge people’s beliefs by what they do, not what they say. And while the business community continues to pay lip service to designing companies around customers, most companies and their senior managers can’t seem to do the hard work of invoking and following a disciplined, fact-based planning process to find out what that means. In fact, many find the prospect of “undergoing” any customer-focused planning process outright distasteful. Instead, most either wait for divine inspiration to strike; or, worse yet, rely on advertising agency brainstorming; or do nothing at all.

Let’s take two not so dearly departed entities, Circuit City and CompUSA, as examples. Both knew Best Buy was whipping their butts. But neither company recognized why nor responded by trying to increase value delivered to customers, Best Buy’s competitive advantage. They sat there playing cost control games and got creamed. Why didn’t they initiate a planning process and invest as much energy into really understanding their customers and identifying breakthrough customer opportunities that could pull them out of their dive?

Were they so preoccupied with financial planning they couldn’t focus on customers? Did they not want to cede control to customers? Or how else would you explain their failure to get real about customer-focused planning before their planes hit ground at full speed?

Let’s pretend CustomerThink is Linkedin and please comment with your opinions.

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