The art of listening
Why do businesses exist? Arguments abound in favor of one or many of these—customers, employees, wealth creation, and society. While there has been no consensus, most management gurus and leaders agree that customer satisfaction is key to success. But how many companies can actually claim to have achieved 100% customer satisfaction?
Sheena Iyengar, one of the world’s foremost experts on choice, says, “We’re born with the desire, but we don’t really know how to choose1.” So if customers are unsure about their choices, how will organizations understand and deliver what they need? If so, how will they innovate to satisfy them? This is what this issue’s cover story tries to unravel.
We spoke to three companies—Cookie Man, Hidesign, and Legrand—and tried to understand how they respond to customer needs. We gathered powerful insights—there has to be a fine balance between innovating and understanding the needs of customers. And one of the yardsticks of a successful innovation is simplicity.
We also understood that different products need different levels of customer feedback and involvement. Hidesign’s Dilip Kapur highlights this when he says they are less linked to customer development compared to most companies. Yet their products are successful and popular.
Elsewhere in the issue, Vinita Bali defines innovation and urges companies to not only innovate, but also focus on renovation that could add new value at a significantly lower cost. And in our Gurumantra column, Morgen Witzel gives us a master class on how to drive innovation.
Given these nuances and variables, what should managers do to attract and retain customers? In her interview to The Smart Manager, Iyengar answers this question. She says managers need to ask, ‘How do I make the choosing experience for my customer more meaningful?’ The key here is ‘meaningful’. Unless the innovation process is rooted in customer insight and adds value to the end user, it will fail.
We would also like to listen to our readers. Do write in with your thoughts and views on the magazine to firstname.lastname@example.org