Tag Archives: Customer Value

A ‘Value’ Mindset is at the Heart of Customer Centricity

Value is the core concept of customer centricity

Andrew Kakabadse, Professor of Governance and Leadership at Henley Business School, UK, carried out in-depth interviews with leaders in more than 100 private and public organizations around the world to identify what is required for organizations and leaders to be successful. He came to the conclusion that the starting point for any successful organization or individual must be ‘value’. 

He says; “The insights from my research have a deceptive but refreshing air of simplicity: success is about delivering value and this is best and most reliably achieved through engaging with people, markets and data and then gathering evidence on that reality and making decisions accordingly.”

This research supports the notion that being customer-centric requires the creation and delivery of superior value to our customers. This ‘value’ mindset must prevail throughout the entire organization. Kakabadse found that ‘diversity of thinking’ is a key element in the creation of value. This enables, through teamwork and collaboration, a blending of ideas and viewpoints that results in innovative new products, services and processes that add value for customers. This should be supported by evidence – that is, feedback from and contributions by customers.

The Virgin Group has a mantra that says; “there is always another way.” This cultural norm encourages new ideas, differences of viewpoint.

IDEO’s core business is based on building new products using a diversity of viewpoints during their design thinking process. At IDEO they suggest there are three elements: inspiration, ideation and implementation. In their words: “Inspiration is the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions. Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas. Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives.”

When this approach to value is applied to building a customer-centric organization it galvanizes the change required to sustainably create and deliver superior value for customers. But it must become part of the customer culture.

You can find out more in The Customer Culture Imperative: A Leader’s Guide to Driving Superior performance.

Can technology retailers survive? Not without a customer focused culture and some new ideas.

Retail Survival? The Amazon online model continues to apply pressure to the traditional bricks and mortar retail stores. Now with the addition of an app that allows shoppers to check prices on the amazon site while in Best Buy or similar technology retailers they continue to squeeze retailer margins. At the other end is Apple that has invested heavily in expanding its retail presence. Add to this a the multitude of small online technology retailers and the rate of change in technology retailing is going through the roof. So what should the traditional technology retailers do?

Their strength is the in store retail experience, many products consumers still prefer to see in person. Best Buy does a great job of merchandising and displaying the latest in technology. The key is how do they close business in store? Creating a customer focused culture that recognizes the options available to consumers and works to innovate on ways to still win by providing the right value at the right time is a key part of the answer.

For example many consumers still prefer to purchase in store but perceive they might pay too much. Other consumers are price shoppers they are just looking and plan to buy online. It is these two groups of customers where there are opportunities to provide different value. For the first group providing expert advise and education during the sales process is valuable even to those will high levels of technology knowledge. Some customers are prepared to pay a small premium for this type of value added interaction.

For the second group of price shoppers, the task is more challenging and many of these customers will want to purchase online. Why not try differential pricing, here is your price in-store (with the margin necessary to sustain the costs of running the store), versus your online store price (lower factoring in the lower cost model). This recognizes that providing an in store retail experience is expensive and only those consumers that really value this should get that experience. Online shoppers would get pricing that is better than Amazon’s in recognition that the customer made the effort to come into the retailer’s store.

Is anyone doing this? Could this work? I don’t know but it would be an interesting idea to test.

I am not saying this is easy, it’s not easy, but the retailers must change and adapt to the new realities and develop alternative value propositions if they are to be as relevant in the future. They must leverage the knowledge and experience of all of their employees to solve these competitive challenges.

“A market culture is what great companies develop to deal with exactly these types of business challenges”

What innovative new techniques have you seen from the traditional retailers? What else can they be doing to compete?

6 questions on customer focus every leader must answer


There has always been a lot of talk from business leaders about being customer driven, customer focused, customer centered in their business activities but what does that really mean?

Here are some key questions and answers to help leaders wanted to improve their organization’s level of customer focus:

1. Why be customer focused?

a. It pays – countless studies tell us businesses with high levels of customer focus sustain a growth path and are much more profitable

b. It’s more satisfying – a pat on the back from a customer makes the hard work all worthwhile

2. How does a customer focused business and team think?

a. It has a shared belief that “what’s best for the customer is best for the business”.

b. The customer is at the heart of all decisions – it is enacted by saying “How will this decision affect the customer; how will it benefit the customer?”

3. What do customer-focused people and teams do?

a. They get feedback from end customers and act on it

b. They get feedback from service provider partners and act on it

c. They gain insights on what bugs customers

d. They understand what will create real added value for intermediate and end customers

e. They realize that it’s the customer’s perception of what is valuable that counts, not their own view of what’s valuable

f. The biggest challenge is for us to gain a customer’s perception of what is really valuable

4. How can we measure how customer-focused we are?

a. Measure what people do in the business that affects the value delivered to customers – adding customer perceived value is a positive; doing non-value work is a negative

b. This comes down to how we behave – in relation to customers and competitors; how we collaborate with each other and our partners

5. What leads to loyal customers spending more and not considering the competition?

a. Personal relationships that create advocates

b. Consistent high value service delivery

c. Continually interacting with customers, listening for feedback, asking, customers how we are doing

d. There is great satisfaction in understanding a customer’s real need and helping them satisfy it

6. Who creates value for customers?

a. Everyone – if you are not creating value for customers, you are draining the business of its potential and future

b. The user experience is affected by everything the business delivers or does not deliver

c. Customers don’t care about your processes, they want a solution to their real problem

d. We should all be focused on solving the end user’s business problem/needs

Why ownership is key to customer experience

I have had a very interesting start to the new year with great progress on a number of fronts mixed in with a reminder of why the work we do is so important…….

Last week my Sony Laptop crashed for the 2nd time within 3 months, as usual it could not be more poorly timed as we ramp up for the new year….

My customer experience has been nothing less than appalling, I have been trying for a week to get someone to take ownership of my problem. I have called 4 different numbers, used chat and tried to complete an online support form but have failed to get anyone to care enough to take ownership of my problem….. everyone keeps sending me somewhere else.

For companies to really prosper and grow they have to be market-driven and being market-driven from a personal point of view is taking ownership of issues that impact customer value and experience. It is so fundamental that any company that cannot meet this basic hurdle has a long way to go on their journey to being truly customer centric.

Have you seen Sony’s results lately? Unfortunately I am not surprised by the experience. See below their share price over the last 5 years, the chart below compares them with a truly market-drive company, Apple……

Sony Versus Apple

How should companies’ innovate?


I read an interesting post by Scott Anthony on the Harvard Business Publishing site today called “Better through whose eyes?”

He makes the point that innovation needs to be seen through the customers lens. I couldn’t agree more, in fact if it isn’t adding value to the customer then in my view it is not innovation to begin with….

The second criteria should be whether the business can do it cost effectively, as an innvoation should add customer value but also add profitablity to the company.

Scott provided the example of the new feature on Bank of Amercia ATMs that allows customers to scan checks, he proposed the idea that it was really just saving BoA money and inconveniencing customers but it was interesting to see that the comments were fairly evenly split on this one with many actually believing it saved them time and was easy to use. So one could conclude that it was innovative for some customers but not others?

This leads to the question of segmentation and how to introduce new benefits that only some customers will value. Perhaps BoA could have provided the old method of banking checks as well as the new scanning method, watched customer behavior and phased out the older method over time?