What’s wrong with being customer centric?

by Lilia Shirman on August 20, 2009

in Customer relationships

Customer centricity is well over a decade old. Companies have gotten better at tracking customer information, incorporating customer input into product design, and identifying customer needs in their sales and marketing messages. Despite these advances, the most frequent complaint by decision-makers involved in complex purchases is that vendors don’t listen, don’t understand their problems, and don’t convincingly articulate value.

Something is obviously missing from all that customer-centric activity.

Just about every discussion of being customer centric focuses on “understanding customer needs”.   Unfortunately, most vendors focus on their customers’ needs, but not on the way their customers do business. That may sound like a subtle difference. It’s not. A focus on needs often misses the context for those needs. That’s important, because the context, not the need, determines value.

Let me repeat that.  The CONTEXT, not the need, determines value.

Only by focusing on needs in context can you be truly, uniquely relevant.  To become more relevant and valuable to customers (and grow revenue),  find the needs that matter most now within the context of your customer’s internal and external business situation, and to which you can add the greatest value.  Then sell and fulfill your offering in the way best suited to the customer’s way of doing business.

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