Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The Key to Business Success: Customer Focus

Any of you who have been reading my blogs for a while know that I’m an absolute fanatic about customer focus, owning the voice of the customer, Moments of Truth and creating customer evangelists. This is based on years of research and study, working with hundreds of companies around the world and owning several companies of my own. It just seems to me if you get close to your customers, understand them better than your competition and deliver things that truly meet their needs at a reasonable price…you will win in the marketplace.

ag-lafleyBut don’t take my word for it, I was recently watching a wonderful video on the Big Think website where A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of P&G (Procter & Gamble), was describing their strategy to win in the marketplace.

Since Mr. Lafley is widely recognized as one of the top CEOs in America, and has been able to deliver incredible growth and success at P & G, I thought you might find his ideas interesting.

Here are some comments directly from the Big Think interview:

I believe everything starts with a deep understanding of who the customer is, what he or she wants and needs and then trying to give it to them. What experience does she want? What relationship does she want? How is she going decide whether we’re a good value? How is she going decide whether to try us and after she uses us whether to buy us on a regular basis?”

My emphasis added above, because I have long been a cheerleader for the idea of:

Whoever owns the Voice of the Customer owns the marketplace!

 

Here is Mr. Lafley reflecting on one of the major customer strategies that they implemented during his tenure as CEO:

“We used to talk a lot about winning the consumer moments of truth. We wanted you to have a good purchasing experience. We wanted you to have a good usage experience. We wanted you to have a good after usage experience. And ultimately we were looking for loyal consumers who promoted our brands to their family, their friends, you know, people in the neighborhood. Okay, that was our whole business model.”

One of the main things you learn from listening to your customers is their critical Moments of Truth. The three, four or five things you must do to create highly engaged, satisfied and loyal customers who become customer evangelists for your products and/or services. Once you understand these essential interactions, the Moments of Truth, then you must build processes, systems and training programs around them to ensure that they are delivered flawlessly for each and every customer, each and every time.

Here are some great comments on why he felt some of the company’s advertising was not effective:

“Frankly in my view there were a lot of pretty unsuccessful commercials. And the reason they were unsuccessful is they really didn’t have a customer or a consumer in mind. You know, I don’t feel like they put the consumer first. I don’t feel like they made a clear promise to that consumer. I don’t feel like they created a relationship with that consumer or had a dialog with that consumer.”

And lastly he touched on something that has long been one of my major pieces of advice to businesses I work with: Don’t worry about the competition, worry about having really, really happy customers and everything else will take care of itself.

Here’s how Mr. Lafley explained that same idea:

“You know, I guarantee you if we won with consumers – if we won with consumers and consumers loved our brand and product line, the financial results would come eventually. Always did.”

I feel awkward quoting so much from the Big Think interview, but I simply wanted you to hear exactly what one of the leading CEOs in the world had to say about the importance of getting close to your customer, listening to your customer and then delivering exactly what your customer has told you they want to buy from you. Now, I know the customer isn’t always right, and sometimes you have to innovate and anticipate based on their feedback, but I do know that at the end of the day the customer is the person who pays ALL the bills, so it’s worth taking a significant amount of time and money to listen to them carefully.

If you’d like to watch the interview, click on the logo  below which will link directly to the Big Think website with the A.G. Lafley video already queued up, and if you haven’t watched the videos on Big Think you’re going to be very pleased with the rich content and excellent interviews on their site.

I hope you found this blog of value and that you share it with your network – thanks – John

BigThink


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A.G. Lafley on Strategy

John Spence

 

 

 

 

 

I recently read A.G. Lafley’s excellent new book on strategy: Playing to Win  (I highly recommend it). A.G. is the CEO of Procter & Gamble and definitely knows a thing or two… or three… about setting corporate strategy. At the most simplistic level A.G. points out that strategy boils down to just five key questions (info in parentheses added by me):

(1) What is your winning aspiration? (Sort of like a BHAG)

(2) Where will you play? (What industries, niches, target markets, locations, countries…)

(3) How will you win? (What is your valued differentiator)

(4) What capabilities must be in place? (What resources, capital, people, partnerships are required)

(5) What management systems are required? (How will you structure your business – what is your unique business model)

But A.G. and his co-author Roger L. Martin also focus on an idea that is near and dear to my heart… EXECUTION!!! As I have said 10,000 times before, even the most impressive strategy in the world is useless if it is not effectively executed.  To me, it is just as important to spend equal time on a creating a focused and clear “Strategic Execution Plan” so that you can make sure you have the ability to turn your really cool ideas… into successful and profitable action in the marketplace!

Please take a moment to watch the brief  video interview with A.G. below, I think you will find it of value.

Your thoughts?