Customer-centric is not a viable business strategy to scale your business.
Updated: Feb 14, 2020
To scale your early stage business to the next level, you need a balance between desirability, profitability and longevity. Unlike picking two of “good, fast and cheap”, all three are required to win in a cluttered, unforgiving marketplace.
I devote the majority of my strategic brand positioning workshop completely focused on the customer. It’s not rocket science. Everybody accepts the notion that an organization / business / brand exists to serve the customer.
However, for Founders of emerging growth companies, determining “where” the customer fits in relation to the operational silos that have developed in a growing enterprise can be a difficult problem.
For an emerging growth business, being customer-centric is not a viable business strategy.
The customer isn’t at the center of your business–you are! You determine how the whole ecosystem of your business will operate, not the customer. As a Founder, you need to constantly be making trade-offs and balancing all the spinning plates that serve your customer. Be customer focused, not customer-centric.
Your business is a system of inter-connected parts. All the factors– customer needs, your competitive positioning, innovation, operations, finance, talent, culture – are of equal importance to delighting customers.
Image the components of your business as a race-car team. Proclaiming to your sponsors that you will win because you’re engine-centric, driver-centric, or aerodynamics-centric. You would never win a race if your team is not skilled at combining these critical elements into a single package– the car itself.
Super-fast engine with a mediocre driver? No bueno. Excellent product but no awareness? No bueno.
To scale your early stage business to the next level, you need a balance between desirability, profitability and longevity. Unlike picking two of “good, fast and cheap”, all three are required to delight customers and win in a cluttered, unforgiving marketplace.
This means your brand represents an “idea of value” in the minds of customers they can’t easily obtain from competitors. Your brand is loved and cherished and is the customers one and only choice.
Because your brand is the beloved one and only choice, you are able to command premium pricing in your category thus contributing more gross profit. Demand alone won’t win the game–the delivery side of your business is what carries the day delighting customers and your long-term profitability.
Delighting high value customers–creating experiences they love and cherish will enable your business to scale, grow in value and be around for a long time to come.
One could argue I’m simply playing with semantics between being customer-focused or customer-centric. But I don’t think so. The difference has profound implications for your business success.
A customer-centric organization is typically in a constant state of chaos, spending time, energy and money chasing after every customer whim, or worse the wrong customer entirely.
A customer-focused organization is a disciplined well run enterprise skilled at combining all the elements that go into delivering experiences customers love and can’t live without.
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