Our Founding Partner, Charlie Dawson, is in the process of writing a book about customer-led business success alongside Seán Meehan who is the Martin Hilti Professor of Marketing and Change Management at IMD, the Swiss business school. It is examining why breakthrough customer-led success happens so rarely given that when it does it often sounds like common sense, and also why once firms have succeeded in this way they don’t go on succeeding forever.
As a contribution to this we asked a large number of senior business managers, internationally, for their views, looking at the ways their companies address organic growth challenges and the relative effect that a focus on different stakeholder groups, in particular customers compared to the financial community, has on performance over time. The piece this relates to is a summary of our findings.
In a world where managers frequently say they are customer centric, our research goal was to determine what they really believe. What are their deeply held assumptions about success and how it is achieved? Do they assume it comes from being aligned with and responding to customers current and future needs, which we call being customer-led? And if they do, does being customer-led affect overall business performance compared to other ways of operating?
It turned out that of the 454 senior executives who responded, 62.7% believe that understanding customers and acting on that understanding is critical to success. But…. only 24% adopt a customer-led approach to running their business.
Using some good statistical analysis, led by our friends at IMD, the conclusions suggest that organisations are either customer-led or efficiency-led and that only the customer-led approach contributes to competitive success.
We are continuing our exploration of what it means to be customer-led and would welcome any reactions this summary.