Many of us think we have a customer-focused approach when we really don’t. In his book The Ultimate Question, Fred Reichheld cites research that confirms there is a big disconnect between what we believe and what our customers think. 80% of senior managers felt their organizations were customer-focused and provided superior customer experiences. However, when their customers were surveyed, only 8% of their customers agreed. 80% versus 8%—that’s quite a disparity. What’s missing? Why aren’t we as customer-focused as we think we are?
“He can’t see the forest for the trees.” When I heard this quote recently, I thought of how much the meaning of this phrase has changed for me over the years. Most people use this expression to describe someone who focuses on the details so much that they neglect to see the big picture. The opposite is also true—those who see the big picture are often unable to recognize the individual distinct trees which comprise that forest. But regardless of whether we see the big picture or are detail oriented, we tend to have the mindset that others see the same things we do.
Customer-centric. That’s been the buzz word in business for a few years now. Sales reps are taught to be customer-centric in their selling approach. Organizations tout that they are adopting a customer-centric culture. But I wonder if we polled their customers if they would agree that things are truly customer-centric. In my mind, being customer-centric is being able to think like the customer. But I wonder how many of us actually achieve that. Thinking like the customer is much harder to do in reality than in practice.