Product to Customer Centric in 4 Steps

Becoming customer centric requires an organization to understand the emotional needs and difficulties of their prospects and customers (only the term “customer” will be used for the balance of the blog post). I have recently done a series of blog posts on empathy (The Role of Empathy in Design), that goes deeper into this subject.

Today’s marketing is not about getting the message out – it is about bringing the message in. Most organizations struggle in their attempts as they evaluate seas of data and lose the personality of the customer using such terminology as markets or value streams. They have a tendency to view marketing as product centric rather than customer/user centric. quarry

You don’t wake up one day and become customer centric. It is not quite that easy. However, a concentrated effort by sales and marketing with just a few priorities can start your organization on the right path and radically improve your chances of moving from product to customer centric.

1. Reduce complexity: Few companies can simply market by collecting more demographic data, psychographic or subjective information. Data should not be ignored; however, in the absence of a customer context, data will provide little value and be desperately in need of direction.

2. Establish the user experience as the basis of collaboration: Framing the marketing effort in the context of the customer allows everyone the opportunity to participate. Everyone can act as the customer and can contribute insight about how the user experience can be improved. Understanding how empowerment varies among roles and evolves over time can help to create priorities and informed decisions.

3. Use maps to guide the way: Mapping products and personas in terms of needs, desires, and aspirations fuels the marketing process with clarity and empathy from the outset. This is not only a powerful tool for understanding how to appeal to customers but it can also shape the debate about trade-offs that are an inherent part of implementation. Customer insight can reveal value and non-value added task. The visual understanding provided by mapping can provide a reality check and a benchmark throughout the sales and marketing process. The direction should he determined by the needs of customers and the particular company’s strategy. Strive for the ability to see where there is a disconnect between your offerings in the market and the desires of the customer to improve the user experience and bridge the gap.

4. Aim for a compass, not a GPS: Identifying an opportunity zone can increase the chances of success by focusing a team’s attention on a fixed number of priorities. These form the basis for experimentation during the sales and marketing process. The idea is to provide a clear direction but allows freedom to all parties to generate different approaches.

My research for this post came from the recent reading of Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business. The authors use these four interactions on How to Create a Design Strategy. I found the same principles applying directly to customer centric marketing. In the book, there is a special tool that the authors call the Psycho-Aesthetics Map. This is a two-dimensional mapping process in which the vertical axis shows the degree of need, from essential through to aspirational, while the horizontal axis shows the degree of interactivity from passive through to immersive. Existing products can be placed in their appropriate locations on the map, as can different groups of consumers, in order to identify gaps which might be suitable for the design of new products. More about this later.

Related Information:
Is Continuous Improvement Continuous?
The 7 step Lean Process of Marketing to Toyota
Lean needs Marketing, more than Marketing needs Lean!
Scaling the Customer Decision Making Process

2 thoughts on “Product to Customer Centric in 4 Steps”

  1. I agree Doug and thanks for the comment. As a twitter remark said about the post; “If it was only this easy.” Your points are well taken, an accurate assessment. I looked at this post as a starting point, nothing more.

    As far as user-conceptualized, I will again agree with you. I have a tendency to lean that way. How would you phrase it different to make it more customer centric?

  2. Sorry for the delay. Here’s a more detailed response on the FreeBalance blog posted today: freebalance dot com /blog/?p=2390

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