In the 30 years I’ve been an entrepreneur consultant, I’ve had the opportunity of sitting with senior management teams from enterprises in diverse industries to infuse customer centricity into their products and services. This has been both a pleasurable experience and the toughest job in my business life.
I’ve always faced two types of clients: those interested in achieving customer centricity and the large section that’s quite indifferent. The interested ones put tremendous effort to understand how core the customer is. They drive hard to inject this core inside their organisation, facing the difficult job of changing employee behaviour. The second type of clients enters the comfort zone of ad hoc adaptability. They deliver what’s feasible as per their back-end capability and act as though customers will accept it. This is the trouble-free route of changing the bottle, not the wine, and hoping against hope that customers will not notice.
Without end customers, where is the business? Enterprises agree to this, but miss out on driving it seriously as business truth. It makes me very uncomfortable when management-level people barely put in an effort to understand the end customer’s sub-conscious mind where buying motivation resides. I cannot fathom why trying to own the end customer’s mindshare is not the first priority of every enterprise. After all, if an enterprise can find out what to do to change the end customer’s behaviour towards favouring its product or service, that enterprise can smile all the way to the bank.
I believe in non-stop enterprise learning using customers as teachers and insight dispensers for business improvement. The ability to absorb human culture and behaviour, anticipate economic and political phenomena in advance, co-opt technology advancement and dig deep into the social and psychological aspects are all necessary at this level to know how to respond to the market. However, industrial heaviness sometimes becomes so overpowering that managers get waylaid from the track of discovering and satisfying the end customer’s need or desire. In India, in particular, it’s a huge dilemma.
Because managers do not always live in the end customer’s domain, it becomes difficult to make them understand micro layers of end customer centricity. I very often become stubborn in defending the value that end customers should legitimately be receiving. It’s become my passion and obsession to add end-customer benefit in any enterprise I work for. To tell you the truth, I’m addicted to observing human behaviour. Wherever