This is a guest post by Dennis Geelen of Zero In.
Take a minute and think of a few companies that pop into your head that were once seen as leaders in their industry but, for one reason or another, eventually came crashing back down to Earth. Maybe they have since been surpassed and are no longer a household name. Perhaps they filed for bankruptcy. Or maybe you are thinking of a company that was forced to close its doors and shut down for good.
Why be Customer Centric?
When I ask people to go through this exercise, many typical companies pop into their head. Blockbuster, Kodak, and Sears being among the most notorious that come to mind.
But the truth is, most businesses are not set up for long-term success. Any company that is currently a leader in their industry could potentially be a footnote in history 5 to 10 years from now.
In fact, the stats are staggering. 25% of all new businesses do not make it past the first 2 years. 50% don’t make it past the 5-year mark and only a quarter of businesses end up being sustainable past 15 years.
That is insane! The obvious question here is ‘why’?
To answer that question, we need to look at some trends that so many companies (large and small) tend to fall victim to. Whether they got off on the wrong foot from the beginning or whether these trends slowly creep into the business over time, they are both common to so many businesses and ultimately cause their demise.
- They are, or they become, too inward focussed
- They are, or they become, too set in their ways
Let’s examine each of these issues and I am sure you will be able to see these trends in so many businesses (maybe even your own!).
First, there is the issue of being too inward focussed. By this I mean that they have a tendency to spend the majority of their time thinking, talking, analyzing, and strategizing about their products, their services, or their financials.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are all important things to consider and manage in a company. However, a major focus (probably the biggest) should be outward. Your customers. Who are they? Why do they purchase your product or service? What value are you adding? Why do some choose your competitors products or services?
Being a customer centric company, top to bottom, from your purpose, to your sales, to your marketing, to operations helps protect you from fixating inward too much and losing touch with why you are in business in the first place.
Second, there is the issue of a business being too set in their ways. By this I mean that a business can become too rigid over time. This happens when a company has found processes, methodologies, or business models that they believe very strongly in (and likely for good reason). However, unless you have been living under a rock the past 20 years you understand that things change, and sometimes fast! If you find you or your team members saying ‘this is the way we do things around here’ your business may be at risk of falling into this trap. You might be too rigid.
A more subtle way that this can happen is that your business becomes too complacent. In this case, the phrase you may hear amongst your team members is “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” Now I am not saying that businesses should invoke change just for the sake of change, but you easily run the risk of getting into a complacent comfort zone and be ill prepared to be nimble and flexible and open to change when you have to be. Whether your business is too rigid or too complacent, watch out!
Set yourself up!
The antidote to this issue is to foster a culture of innovation. Businesses need to be intentional about always finding new and better ways to deliver value to their customers. They can do this by implementing principles and practices so that their employees are encouraged to come up with new ideas (in a structured environment) and then pilot them and see how they resonate.
When disruptors come along (competitors, economic downturns, changes in consumer habits, pandemics, and so on) businesses need to have a culture of innovation in place so that they can be flexible and pivot quickly as needed
So how do you protect your business from becoming the next statistic and falling prey to these 2 mistakes? Be intentional about turning your company into one that is customer centric and innovative. Set yourself up for long-term success.
You may also enjoy Innovation Starts at Home
THE ZERO IN FORMULA, Dennis Geelen’s latest book, challenges business owners, CEOs, and leaders to think differently about their company.
In THE ZERO IN FORMULA Geelen walks you through the recipe. You will learn what it means to be customer centric, with strategies and tools you can apply to your business. You will understand what it means to be truly innovative, with principles and practices you can implement. You will be guided through the recipe step-by-step to build your successful foundation. You will learn from stories and examples of other businesses and their successes and failures. Whether your business is just starting out and looking for a blueprint to follow over time, or your organization is an existing business and you realize you need to make some corrections and get back on a better course, this book is your guide.