Think Like your Customers

I loved this post:Think and Act Like your Customers, by Scott Anthony in Harvard Business Review:

At most companies, it is a mark of shame to use anything other than the company’s product. I doubt that you would see many tubes of Crest at Colgate-Palmolive. Try bringing a Coke product into Pepsi. Steve Ballmer from Microsoft famously berated an employee last year for using an iPhone at a company event.[…] It’s kind of silly, isn’t it? An innovation-focused company shouldn’t have an avoid-the-competition-at-all-costs mindset.[…] Some companies have people who focus solely on competitive intelligence, but the simplest form of competitive intelligence is to encourage employees to act like “regular” customers. Pick whatever solution gets the job done better than anyone else.

I wholeheartedly agree. Being able to get into the shoes of our customers is a foundational step towards Customer Enlightenment. How else can we uncover, or anticipate, the needs of those we seek to please? Thinking and acting like a customer is good practice; and that should include getting a taste for competitive products.

Ultimately, it is not what we think about our products that truly matters, but what customers think of our products (in light of alternatives). So why blind our eyes, and keep in our ivory towers?

Customer enlightenment is about tearing down the veils that blind us, to seek understanding. It is about leaving our egos and offices behind, to experience living a day in the life of our customers. It is about abolishing the walls that limit us, to venture beyond our assumptions. It is about wondering what the world might look like, seen through someone else’s eyes. There starts enlightenment.

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