Knowing what one ought to do is entirely different from actually doing it. This is as true of life as it is true in business. When it comes to properly servicing customers the knowledge-execution gap becomes readily apparent. The mantra in the current social media savy, market heavy business environment is customer focus. Most will take for granted that in order to succeed a business has to understand their customers and meet their customers needs. Supply and demand is one of the most fundamental principles of business. However, know that your business needs to focus on the customer is entirely different from successfully interpreting their needs and meeting them. The differences are in the abstractions and particulars. While most businesses understand that organizing around the customer drives success, many businesses simply neglect these fundamentals.
The Relationship between Organizational Health and Customer Focus
The failure to properly focus business practices around customer needs directly impacts organizational health because it means the business increasingly fails to execute successful ideas while diminishing the capacity to pivot based on customer preference. The loss of customer focus begins with how operations are conceptualized. Every process is designed with some end in mind. Product development has the end of delivering useful products that the customer can use. Customer relationship management seeks to improve interactions with the customer. However, a process can gradually become an end in itself. For instance, a product development cycle that takes months to complete and includes little input from the customer will inevitably produce a large number of end-products that are either behind the market or mis-targeted. While the process itself might go exactly as planned, the end result is unsuccessful. When processes becomes the focus of an organization, the process itself become an execution inhibitors. the problem becomes increasingly self-defeating when overlapping processes all operate on the same insular assumptions. Insular processes also make it difficult to change once markets shifts. Instead of pivoting rapidly to meet the challenge, a insular organization will struggle to keep up with the new demands of the strategic landscape. Consequently, the health of the organization begins decline as the market surpasses their capabilities.
These tend to be common problems within larger businesses, but here at 9Lenses we have seem these issues crop up even in businesses with less than 50 employees. The root of the problem is not a massive bureaucracy, but a poor understanding of the customers’ perspective. The solution is to embed customer focus in the organizational culture so that even processes that are far removed from customer interaction still work to service the customers’ needs.
How Social Discovery Helps Improve Organizational Health
Embedding customer focus into company culture is one of the many issues that could become another instance of the knowledge-execution gap. It is easy to miss the opportunity. Alternatively, properly leveraging social discovery tools can help a business improve customer focus because it directly and indirectly incorporates the integration behavior into the method of discovery. When the perspectives of multiple stakeholders are gathered an compared, it exposes the misalignment within the organization. Through this exercise, business leaders can begin targeting areas of misunderstanding and improving understanding throughout all levels of the organization. Additionally, they can gain valuable perspective to help correct their own misunderstandings. With an improve alignment, the organization will integrate more effectively around their operations.
When it comes to developing strong customer focus, social discovery indirectly helps reinforce constructive habits. Social discovery requires a conscience engagement with collecting universal understanding of specific issues. It helps challenge assumptions. With a conscience understanding of their own assumptions, social discovery encourages people to develop understandings of issues based on sound data. Thus, when there is a lack of understanding around the customer, data becomes the immediate solution for rectifying the misunderstanding. While data itself does not solve the problem, it does provide clear insights that are immediately transmutable into actions. As a functional development, individuals become more sensitive to customer perspectives as they become aware of the customer needs. Awareness drives engagement. As engagement with customer considerations increases, the individuals within the organization are increasingly able to adjust their thinking to the customers perspectives. Constant adjustments makes the organization more adaptable and able to respond to changing demands.
The starting point for organizational health is the customer. Without this core focus, success will be forever illusive. Although organizations cannot transform their current conditions overnight, they can accelerate their development into customer focused institutions through social discovery technology. The powerful data gathered help align business considerations across multiple points within the organization. Cohesion, coupled with increasing awareness helps drive meaningful action to ensure the customers are the center of business concerns. Through these understandings the knowledge-execution gap will begin to shrink as insights are increasingly translated into actions.