How is it that so many companies seem so far away from their customers.
We often see a decision made or a new product launched, that clearly hasn’t considered… ‘What would our customers think of this?’
The result of this kind of behaviour leads to solid and successful companies losing their number one status, and losing all focus and direction.
We see companies that only consider things from their side.
Tunnel vision takes over and decisions aren’t fully thought through.
Fire fighting becomes the norm, and everyone is at a loss as to why they are in this position.
Being customer-oriented is a minimum requirement for being successful.
Everything a business does, must consider the customers.
What You Will Learn
• The marketing concept
• Market-oriented firms
• Guidelines for market-oriented management
• The simple method to always consider your customers
The Marketing Concept
So the marketing concept holds that:
“The most effective method of achieving and sustaining competitive advantage over time, is through planning and coordinating all company activities around the primary goal of satisfying customer needs.”
This is such an important statement, and one that business leaders can’t lose track of.
Satisfying customer needs means producing products that customers need
Satisfying customer needs results in customers buying your products.
Satisfying customer needs results in business success… well, in most cases.
All firms that are market oriented, follow the marketing concept just discussed.
This means that they:
• Are characterised by a consistent focus by personnel in all departments and at all levels on customers’ needs and competitive circumstances in the market environment
• Are willing to quickly adapt products and functional programmes to fit changes in that environment
• Pay a great deal of attention to customer research before products are designed and produced
• Embrace the concept of market segmentation by adapting product offerings and marketing programmes to the special needs of different target markets
• Adopt a variety of procedures and structures to improve the responsiveness of their decision making
Guidelines For Market-Oriented Management
So to ensure you are being effective in your market-oriented management, I have some simple guidelines for you to follow:
• Create customer focus throughout the business
• Listen to the customer
• Define and nurture your distinctive competence
• Define marketing as market intelligence
• Target customers precisely
• Manage for profitability, not sales volume
• Make customer value the guiding star
• Let the customer define quality
• Measure and manage customer expectations
• Build customer relationships and loyalty
• Commit to continuous improvement and innovation
• Grow with partners and alliances
Notice how many times the word customer is used there… or how many are customer focused.
I can’t emphasise enough how important this is.
I’d advice you to get your senior management team together asap and ask yourselves for each of the above, ‘Do we do….’
The Simple Method To Always Consider Your Customers
So now we come to the simple method.
How can you always consider your customers.
I’ve used this technique in many of my businesses, and incorporate it where possible in my consulting assignments.
All you need to do is to have one empty chair in all of your management meetings.
If there are 10 managers attending, make sure you have 11 seats set out.
On this empty sheet you are going to print out in nice big bold letters, ‘OUR CUSTOMER’.
Now you have the customer present at all of your meetings.
For every discussion you have and for every decision you make, you will turn to the customer and ask:
‘How will this affect you?’
‘What benefits will this bring you?’
‘How will you respond to this?’
‘What is the best way forward to you?’
Look, there are many questions you can ask your customer… the point is, you are starting to consider everything from the point of view of your customers.
Immediately you will broaden yours and your whole companies thinking.
The whole direction of your business is becoming customer focused.
You are making decisions based around your customer.
Tunnel vision will disappear, and all of your employees will feel a new wave of excitement, positivity and motivation.
After all every business is there to provide a product or service that customers want, buy and love.
How exciting is it to be part of that!
To Wrap Things Up
You might think I went around the houses a little to get to the simple method, but I wanted to be clear about the importance the marketing concept and customer oriented firms.
Deep down we all know this to be true, but the day to day slog of being in business can result in us forgetting this.
If your business is in a downturn or things aren’t going too well, always ask yourself first ‘Are we really considering our customers in everything we do?’
If the answer is no, you’re on your way to finding out why your business is struggling.
This type of business management provides results, therefore I recommend you implement it immediately.
If you need any help with this, please do get in touch.