First of all, welcome to week 40 (or 39, depending on where you are). I’m feeling a little lazy to write today, probably because I need to re-enforce the rule of not writing on the weekends…
Part of customer-focus when blogging, is certainly “who are you writing for?” Fidji Simo, a much better blogger than me and a friend, asks the question on her blog and gets some great answers. I need to ask the question on mine at some point. If you treat the world as specialists, then who you’re writing for becomes what you’re writing about. I think I’m writing from the stance of an entrepreneur-to-be and an outsider to the world of FNR + business, doing research. So I write about a broad range of topics, and perhaps there are some like-minded people out there, perhaps not.
As I grow more experienced, starting a career in this field, starting a business, constantly keeping in mind the quote by Annie Dillard..
“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
.. I expect to focus on more practical things.
So that is my “focus,” but maybe I forgot the “customer” along the way? Note to self: don’t make the same mistake when starting an actual business. Note to self 2: keep your sense of humour.
So let’s get back to Harvard Business Review, whose words I’ve been digesting slowly, but surely, over the last few months. There’s a couple of things I appreciate about the journal, as a customer, and the most important one is their use of an editors’ preview podcast to discuss next month’s issue. Why I like that is because it saves me from going to the news-stand and leafing through it—however pleasurable that may be. BusinessWeek does something similar, as do other weekly/monthly magazines, I’m sure. But I really appreciate this from any news-vendor, because it’s free, easily digestible, and is a great service.
And second, I appreciate their free content on the site; while it’s not quite as valuable to me their magazine publication, it enforces the image that HBR is a quality-brand, worth paying € 15 for per issue.
There have of course been some great words by HBR on the issue of customer-focus. As a matter of fact, I’ve just begun reading their special—OnPoint—issue on the lengthy topic of: “Staying focused on your customers, as you grow your business.” I have only had time to read their editorial so far, but that already asks some great questions:
- What do customers really value in their relationship with you?
- How do they perceive the basic action of placing an order with you?
- Do you see total cost (in time/money) from their perspective?
- Do you understand the buying process of your most profitable customers?
- In designing new services, features, products, do you take a customer-centric stance?
- Can you clearly differentiate your products from those of competitors, in your customers eyes?
- How well do you learn about your customers’ needs in the past/present/future? How wide is that learning shared, does it affect decision making?
- Is your customer strategy targeted enough towards acquiring, building a relationship with, and retaining them?
This has already given me plenty of food for thought today, and I hope it did the same for you!