There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been”. Similarly, an organization must focus the business around tomorrow’s customer, not today’s customer. The organization must continually learn from its customers to guide the business. It is imperative that the organization considers where, why and how the customer will be using the product.
For example, consider the evolution of the personal banking user experience. Traditionally, the bank’s customers would ask the teller at the bank to complete their transaction. Banks optimized this by creating ATM banking machines. ATMs were revolutionary because the banks could place the units in any retail space, providing the same core services to customers, at a greater convenience and less cost (fewer tellers needed) towards the organization. Banks have continued to optimize the experience for their customer by introducing internet banking and now, mobile banking.
Banks valued evolution over optimization. If they continued to optimize the tellers’ workflow, the banks would have highly efficient tellers without many customers entering the bank. If your organization don’t continually evolve, another organization will.
Predicting the future is not easy. If it were, I would be in the stock market. However, there are certain processes change agents can implement in an organization to guide the product:
- Customer Councils: Regular meetings with customers to discuss the product
- Active User Community: Having an online presence where the users can interact with each other and your organization’s employees. Building active user communities will retain customers who may have been looking at other options.
Organizations that focus on maximizing ROI will inevitably fail. The organization fixates on the receiving the highest margin possible at the cost of losing sight of the customer. Instead, I suggest that the organization should focus on customer value, as satisfied customers will continue to buy the organization’s product thereby generating more ROI. This is a win-win for both parties.
At the end of the day, organizations need to transition from operational to strategic. They must take risks to predict and target where the customer is going, not just where it is today.