At The Customer Closeness Company we believe that in today’s world you need to put customers at the centre of everything you do to stay competitive. I was therefore interested to read an article by Martin Lindstrom taking about the importance of listening to, and understanding the market, rather than simply relying on big data to inform business or brand strategy. He had some wonderful illustrations of where this happens at the top of organisations and the impact it has to which we have added:
1. Michele Ferrero, Italy’s richest man, owner of Nutella, Kinder Surprise, Ferrero Rocher, and Tic Tac - the elderly Ferrero was spotted crawling on hands and knees through a retail store, testing whether children could reach his chocolates. He later revealed that this was the secret to his success: living in the minds of his consumers
2. Walt Disney - who would join Disneyland guests in line, listening to their conversations to get a sense of their perspective of the park
3. Rupert Murdoch - who reads all of his 50+ newspapers every morning. He puts himself in his reader’s shoes, whether it’s a business reader of the Wall Street Journal or a British housewife reading The Sun. If a headline is out of whack with what his instincts tell him his readers want, he’s on the phone to his editor.
4. Jeff Bezos - Amazon – Bezos periodically leaves one seat open at a conference table and informs all attendees that they should consider that seat occupied by their customer, “the most important person in the room.”
5. Alan Mulally – ex CEO of Ford - regularly took to Twitter to engage directly with Ford customers and to answer questions in real time.
6. Jacqueline Gold - Ann Summers and Knickerbox - changed internal practices after taking part in a BBC-TV programme 'Back To The Floor'. "For the programme, I spent time working in our bra manufacturing company in Portsmouth. It was so useful that we introduced the principle of bosses working on the shop floor as part of our culture. On Valentine's Day, for example, every one of our directors works in a store."
7. Stephen Kelly - Sage CEO – goes out to meet customers even at the weekend. “I’ll go down the High Street and talk to Sage customers. Normally they’re very happy but there’s always one or two little things that they tell us. “You could do much better on this” or “this part of the product doesn’t work well” and I just make a little note of that. Monday morning, in a kind of very non-blame way, we try to fix it for the customer.” He also set up a Code Red process. Any customer in the world, any partner, any accountant can ping him on Twitter, email, or call him and literally, within minutes, there’s a team mobilized of “Red Adairs” to fix their problem and put out their fire for them. Since he set it up he says there’s only been
one situation from one customer that couldn’t be resolved.
Some inspirational stories that inspire us, we hope you enjoy them too.