Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Give More to Get More - The New Paradigm

A lot has been written about customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, customer engagement, customer experience, customer relationship management and other terms that attempt to capture the notion of improving the value derived from relationships between a provider of products or services and a buying customer. While a lot has been written, I am convinced that when you 'boil it down to a low gravy', real success can only be achieved in the business-to-business relationship (two companies doing business with each other) when the product or service provider does the unthinkable - focus its attention on giving more to the customer before thinking about how to get more in return...a familiar truth that also works in business.

Before you rush to the comment section of the post to unleash your various forms of capitalism-based retorts, please hear me out. I am not talking about philanthropy or unprofitable business ventures. I am talking about an approach to running a business that leads to unprecedented levels of customer engagement and sustained profit growth. Yes, the kind of business every company desires to have.

But, in reality, here is how the process typically works in most organizations. I am sure this sounds familiar to many of you.

"Let's see how much profit we can make from these customers to reach our profit targets for this year's budget. Or, maybe we can replicate the high levels of customer profitability we enjoy with our 'best' customers. By the way, what can we do to get more of these high profit customers? Can we get a price increase and take out more costs?" Yes, this seems to be the conversation of the day and it is an important conversation.

But, can you imagine a different conversation that begins with the customer's profitability at the center?

A conversation that goes like this..."How can we help customers make more money by doing business with us versus our competitors? What are the specific things we can provide that are valuable to the customer (from the customer's perspective) and can't be matched by our competors? Let's measure the financial impact of what we does it impact the customer's bottom line and how do we continuously improve the impact over time? Maybe this will help us make the right investments, trim costs without hurting the business and continue to outpace our competitors by taking profitable share."

This second conversation uncovers and acknowledges something we already know: all products, services and customers are not created equally. However, most approaches to managing customer relationships seem to omit this fundamental truth. Again, before rushing to the comment section of this post, I invite you to answer the following questions about your business (or some other business if your business has this new paradigm in place and firing on all cylinders).

Does your organization know specifically how you help customers make more money?

Does your organization understand specifically how it will make customers more money in the future?

Does your organization measure and track how much more money customers make doing business with you relative to competitors?

And, does your organization measure and track how much money customers make doing business with you over time?

Hey, the new paradigm of business success is have to 'give more to get more' one customer at a time. I would love your thoughts.

d keith pigues
"Helping people get more out of work and life than they ever thought possible."