Are you customer obsessed? Is your startup? I think the question is relevant to ask, as I see quite a number of startups, who claim to be customer focused but in reality aren’t.
Let me give three specific examples of what I mean.
You leave revenue goals to sales. It is up to them to meet or hopefully exceed the numbers, while still doing it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the business or put extra workloads on people, fx committing to new specific features that really doesn’t make sense.
Your R&D people make an effort into not listening to customer feedback by essentially isolating themselves and not ensuring the presence of fora, where customer pains can be communicated in a way that doesn’t always end up with the customer being considered the problem.
You essentially have zero idea about how your market works, and you have only a vague idea about what the competition looks like and how customers truly solve the problem, your product is trying to address, today.
I don’t think I need to give more examples, and I am confident that if you’re being honest with yourself, there is quite a lot in the above you recognize – even while working at a ‘customer focused’ startup.
The good question then of course becomes, what you can do about it? I think there are two things:
First of all, we could all agree that being ‘customer focused’, ‘customer oriented’ or ‘customer centric’ has in essence lost all its meaning. It has become meaningless slogans that potentially do more harm than good, because they provide the opportunity to cover up the true state of affairs. Affairs that has all to do with one thing IMHO:
How you operate!
And that leaves me with the second thing you could do to rectify your focus and ensure that you really practice, what you preach:
Become customer obsessed.
Why obsessed? Because it comes with the understanding that you cannot make any major decision without having thought about the customer and the customer impact first. You cannot dismiss ideas out of hand, if they could generally benefit customers, and you cannot make a decision on anything without having input from those closest to the customer as part of the decision making process.
It is a firm commitment. And that’s the whole difference.
Furthermore, being customer obsessed mandates that everybody in the company cares first and foremost about the customer. Getting new customers is not only a play for sales and marketing. Servicing customers is not only limited to support. It is everybodys responsibility. Nobody can shy away from it.
Why is being customer obsessed important? Because your startup ultimately lives and dies with its customers. Especially in the challenging times we currently live in. Keep the customers coming, keep them happy and thrive as a result.
It really is that simple.