Should We Always Start With the Customer?

A sharp intake of breath but hear me out….answer this question. Do you want your customer experiences to provide value in equal measure to your customers and your business?

Which Came First, The Chicken Or Egg?

Let me share some examples of why I have posed this question and think to yourself which did the business creator start with, the customer value, or the business value?

  • Loyalty cards, many companies have these, supermarkets are prime examples
  • Hotel chains offer returns for our loyalty
  • Social media sites offering easy communication, sharing, and promotion.
  • Mapping software providing traffic updates, searchable local services, street views…

The value to us, their users, their customers, is undeniable whether it be with tangible returns such as vouchers to spend, days out with the family, free nights away, or the non-tangible; time-saving, convenience, and problem avoidance. So ask yourself, when these ideas were born out in the minds of the creators, did they start with the customer? Or did they start with what they wanted to get in return for this service provision?

Let’s consider supermarket loyalty schemes, did they start with ‘we want to reward our customers for staying with us? well maybe but you can be sure that they also said, ‘We must maximize what this loyalty will drive for us’ and it’s not just so we return month or month — it’s for the DATA and INSIGHT:

  • What do we buy?
  • When do we buy it?
  • What times do we buy most?
  • What are our brand preferences?
  • What’s our spending capacity?
  • What are our little indulgences?
  • How big are our families?
  • What changes are coming in our lives?

The list goes on…

All of which enables them to profile us deeply and influence our behaviours. It also opens up alternate revenue channels, and cost-saving models, this data is very very valuable.

So, Answer the Question!

In a world where business talks of customer-first culture, the reality, and my advice is, don’t exclusively focus on the customer, you have a business to make a success of, and the return must at least match the investment in customer value your providing. So there is nothing wrong with starting with the insight your business needs but don’t forget to balance your efforts with the customer value your providing.

Whether your part of a company and want to get stakeholder buy-in for an idea or starting up your own venture this approach will serve you well.


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