Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Some statements seem utterly crazy when you first hear them. But if you think about them, they have the power to change your paradigm.
I believe the title of this post is such a statement that can shift paradigms.
Your first reaction is probably - how can it be wrong? Common sense tells you that it is an excellent strategy. Everybody involved in product development should focus on it. If it is easy to sell, you will sell more, grow, and make money. Isn't that what business is all about?
However, if you are focusing on making products that are easy to sell, attention is directed to your organization's capabilities and limitations. You will create products that fit them.
However, wouldn't it be better to:
Create products that are easy to buy?
The difference may seem insignificant but is, in fact, massive. The latter will direct focus on the customers and their needs and resource concerns. It is an outside-in perspective starting with the customer. Companies nurturing this paradigm are focused on creating unrivaled customer value, and are more responsive to customer needs or changes in the market place.
The fact that satisfied customers lead the way to excellent business performance has been demonstrated by Professor Carl Fornell. Since 1994, the effect of customer satisfaction on economic returns has been measured across hundreds of companies in different industries.
Customer satisfaction levels have been measured based on thousands of interviews with customers. The results have been compiled using mathematical models in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) https://www.theacsi.org/
Changes in ACSI have been correlated with changes in the Dow Industrial Average and other data. Quarter after quarter and year after year, the measurements have demonstrated a definite positive link between customer satisfaction and financial metrics such as market value added (MVA), stock price, and return on investment.
As Tom Siebel of Siebel Systems once framed it:
"First is our absolute commitment to 100% customer satisfaction. Instead of going off and engineering products and then trying to sell them, we talk to customers first, find out what they want, and then design the products and services that meet their needs. We are organizationally and individually committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure each of our customers succeeds. This is not lip service."
Source: Bronwyn Fryer MBR March 2001
We are convinced about the importance and necessity for all organizations to shift focus from short-term shareholder value and cost-cutting to a long-term focus on creating unrivaled customer value. All organizations need to understand customer needs and resource concerns.
Building a company culture around customer value and focus on products and services that provide high customer satisfaction. Other metrics of success, like market share, profitability, and growth, will take care of themselves and follow.
So the next time you put your ear to the ground – will it be to hear all the internal Voices or to explore the Voice of your customers? I hope you will focus on:
Creating products that are easy to buy!
Per and Ulf
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