Rogers: Focus on the consumer, not the product

Companies can't rely on good products or services any more. It's now about creating lasting experiences with customers and earning their trust.

Speaking for the first time in the Philippines, Martha Rogers (pictured), founding partner of customer-centric management consulting firm Peppers & Rogers Group, reminded delegates at her keynote speech during the annual Globe Enterprise Innovation Forum that while its great to have happy customers,  what really matters are loyal ones.

Rogers explains that customer trust should now be part of branding strategies necessary for building a good experience as good product, fair pricing and excellent service.  The following are excerpts from her keynote speech during the event:

 Shift in centricity

In recent years, there has been a shift in business focus: it’s all about product centricity versus customer centricity. Instead of getting just market share, I would rather focus on one customer at a time for my business. I can’t overemphasize the importance of thinking about the customers.

If our goal is to sell more stuff, then we will always have to compete on price – that is based on the “market share” strategy. However, if what we do is to add value to our customers’ lives, then we end up selling more stuff, in accordance to the “share of customers” strategy.

Speaking of customers, I classify them into four kinds: the “affluents,” those who spend a lot of money; the “advocates” who talk a lot about products and services in the market; the “misers,” those who do not have the propensity to talk about and spend; and the “champions,” who spend money and talk to their friends about a company’s offerings. Your goal is to get a lot of champions on your side.

On your company’s customer experience, how good is it? Almost every executive will say that they deliver in a superior level, but if we check with customers, only 8% will say so. Things are actually not what they seem.

The questions we now need to address are: How can I use available channels to understand my customers better and build a more trustable relationship with them? How can I make it happen? And, why did the customer choose me instead of my competitor? All answers should redound on the values of trust, confidence and strength of the customer relationship.

Trust and transparency

Speaking of trust, as customers become more interconnected and talk more to each other, their interactions will result to more transparency. In this age of transparency, what our customers say about us is more important than what we say to them. If we screw up today, it will last forever because we can’t “un-Google” ourselves.

Transparency means that what customers say matters a lot more than what we say about ourselves. As a business, think of transparency as a disinfectant – it will make you “clean and clear,” but at first it will sting. Yet, it is integral in building customer trust and must be the primary marketing objective in the next ten years.

So what exactly do our customers respond to? We need to do the right things, do what is best for them and do it proactively. Let’s acknowledge our customers and include what they want in our strategic planning.

Rogers is an accomplished writer and has co-authored nine customer strategy books. Together with business executive Don Peppers, they are both credited in launching the customer relationship management revolution with their first book, “The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time,” earning accolades from business circles as an important business reference material of all time.