How much do you really know about your customers? 5 areas to look into

How much do you really know about your customers?

If you are going to create superior value for your customers through the Value Proposition and the associated Customer Experience then you need to have sound insight into the lives of your customers.   Which is why in my model Customer Insight, Value Proposition and Customer Experience are interlinked.

How much do you really know about your customer?  Allow me to be more specific – how much time, effort and emotional investment have you made into stepping into and living the lives of your customers?  Have you even spent a day walking in their shoes seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, experiencing what they experience and possibly thinking and feeling what they feel?  What kind of insight would be available if you were to step into the customer’s shoes and live their life for a week?  Who in your organisation had done that even once?

Word are easy, deeds are harder.  My experience is that few organisations truly understand their customers because it is still rare for people within the organisation to walk in the shoes of their customers and experience the world through the minds and bodies of their customers.  Yet, this is exactly what is needed if you are to come up with both the insight and the emotion around that insight that inspires you to make the changes that will create value for your customers.

Shifting from an organisation-centric mindset to a customer-centric mindset

The more I dive into Customer Experience and Customer-Centricity the more convinced I become that what we are really taking about is business model innovation (including leadership, culture, mission & strategy) – the outer ring of my Create Superior Value framework (the first diagram in this post).  As such I wish to share with you a table that I adapted from Osterwalder & Pigneur’s book:

Conclusion

Shifting from a company-centric to a customer-centric mindset can be remarkably difficult – most people live and breathe the organisation so their natural, taken for granted, way of being, seeing and doing is company centric.

Only those people who have a strong enough reason (competitive forces) or a strong desire will step into the customer shoes and by doing so they will shift their perspective from company-centric to customer-centric.  Therein lies the opportunity: to come up with novel insights that are simply not available to those looking at customers from afar with industry/company coloured telescope.

What do you think?

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

7 thoughts on “How much do you really know about your customers? 5 areas to look into”

    1. Hello Guillame
      Thank you. I am happy that my writing and sharing has contributed to you. And in reaching out to me you have contributed to me – increasing my motivation to continue writing in my own style. Thank you and I wish you well.

      Maz

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  1. Hi Maz,
    Your comment ‘inspires you to make the changes that will create value for your customers’ made me think that if we are to help organisations change the way they do and see things then perhaps we need to think about adding a phrase onto the end of your comment such that it reads: ‘inspires you to make the changes that will create value for your customers, your business and your people’. Hopefully that will then address the underlying motivataional question: What’s in it for me?

    What do you think?

    A

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  2. Hello Maz,

    As you know I write a blog. I think your comments have a strong application here as well:

    How do I get readers to sign up? becomes why would a reader want to sign up?
    What do the readers need to know? becomes what do readers want to know?
    How can I reach the readers? becomes where do the readers currently like to read?

    The parallels are obvious

    What is interesting is how easy it is to take a blog rather than reader centric approach

    James

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    1. Hello James

      Well put once again. We live in a culture which is alll about me, me, me. And given that our training starts so early this mode of life is our automatic way of being. Then we go and add inauthenticity on top of this mode of being by pretending that it is all about you. What is really missing is that ‘it really is all about you”.

      In my case I blog simply to add my voice to the conversation and as such my blog is simply an exercise in self-expression, learning, connecting with people like yourself, ideally making a contribution. And as such I have not really thought that hard about what my readers want. Why is that? In part that is because I do not know what my readers want. Also, in part it is because I hope that the value that I create is to say things out ‘honestly’ (what I really think) rather than ‘sell’. Maybe that is easier for me because I am not a guru and have nothing to sell except my passion.

      Thanks for entering into a conversation with me. Be well and I look forward to hearing your voice again.

      Maz

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  3. Great post. You are so right sales and marketing teams keep think of customers from their own perspective. If you stop thinking of customers as money and look outside-in you’ll attract more customers, deliver customer value, get referrals and hey you’ll get more money

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    1. Hello Giles
      Good to meet you online and thank you for taking the time to write and share your veiwpoint. It looks like you and I are in total agreement. It takes some doing to take the “road less travelled” and yet some of the leaders that have done that have built very successful companies. The problem is that it is really hard to focus on the long term when the wolf of meeting salesquota is at the door right now. So I can totally understand why the vast majority of organisations function as they do. From a systems perspective “structure drives behaviour” – there is nothing like fear to drive self-centred, short-term, make the numbers at any cost thinking and action.

      Maz

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