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Article CX Strategy

Do The Right Customers Care?

Apple is held up as a role model for a great business (and rightly so). The problem is they’re a hard role model to copy for a lot of businesses -- in part because they seem to be playing a different game.

But they’re not. Here’s how a business can look at Apple’s approach and find the parallel strategy for their company. And it will work.

You're innovating and making new additions to your product and service.

But do the right customers care?

It's one of the most important questions a business can ask.

And here's why (you have to break down the question)

1. Do you know who your right customers are? Have you even tried to define that? What logic / method did you use?

One of the greatest gifts a management team can give itself is focus. It means a narrower customer definition and by extension a narrower product offering. Keep in mind I'm not saying simple product offering. I'm saying narrower... a relative term.

Not designing and pricing for everyone. While that may seem like a fantastic thing (a smart phone for everyone for example ain't such a great thing when it comes to building a great company. Apple hasn't tried to do that and they are looking like the first trillion dollar company

2. Building for only some customers.

Bigger market size is better right? Not always. Maybe it is if you mean $ revenues and definitely better if you mean $ margins and profits. But it's a definite maybe or no when it's only numbers of potential customers. There are too many businesses out there that fool themselves with customer and revenue numbers when margins and profits are low or absent ... and are never going to come.

3. Do the right customers 'care'?

Defining the word care is the key thing here.

The key questions to ask in escalating order of importance are:

  • Will it get their attention?
  • Will they stay engaged?
  • Will the convert and close?
  • Will they pay a price that delivers great margins?
  • Will the be enthralled promoters of your brand?

The disease of the product centric

Like many flawed approaches, the biggest problem that company centric decisions create is a desire to ‘find’ the right validation.

It’s often what leads management teams to grasp onto incorrect success metrics and place themselves in a state of denial for extended periods of time.

Company centricity is a form of lack of confidence — building products that you or your team like (without bring the customer into the center of the process) is a form of self validation. And it kills businesses.

It’s not always a fast death. It happens slowly.

First the product or service is designed for the wrong audience.

Second validation is sought in the available data and that bias brings inaccuracy or outright self dishonesty into the process

Third great opportunities are ignored and falsely elevated ones are continued.

With that comes the decline of the business and maybe its end.

One in every industry

These days you’d be hard pressed to find an industry that doesn’t have atleast one customer centric strong player. Some are flying under the radar but they’re still doing damage to the old school customer centric players.

The problem for the legacy players is that the evidence of leader strength often comes  too late. Here are some well know examples:

iPhone and Microsoft
Netflix and Cable
Zipcar and Rental cos.
Amazon and retailers

Defensive Response

You can tell when reality starts setting in -- the company centric players start relying on tired old defensive playbook:

  1. Predatory pricing
  2. Heavy handedness market tactics
  3. Anticompetitive behavior
  4. Legal action as a stalling tactic
In the end, its an exercise in futility.
Oct 31, 2014  
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It's impossible for companies to focus on the 'easy' market segments (ie. non millenials) and get comfortable with a less than competitive product or service offering. 

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