A Customer World
December 2013
Peggy Smedley, Editorial Director

Know your customers. It’s the biggest rule for exceptional companies, both large and small, and is recited by savvy leaders. I have been repeating these same three words for many years. Powerhouse executives make a point to give their customers what they want in the form they want, and to give them a buying experience that satisfies them.

It really doesn’t matter whether they are B2B(business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), just know what your and give it to them. Offer your clients the right products, warranties, features, support, buying experience, and service. So then why do so many vendors keep telling us we are getting it wrong?

In my humble opinion, I believe too many tech companies have a hard time understanding that we see the market as catering to connectivity needs, and that impacts all of us whether we are at work or at play.

Let me explain it this way: Our target profile means knowing our readers’ names, genders, household incomes, professions, education, interests, hobbies, and so much more. We understand your likes and dislikes. Our mission extends to knowing the type of content our subscribers want to read each and every issue, page-by-page.

This might seem all consuming, but when you know something about your customers, you need to act on that information and provide the best value, based on making them smile from ear to ear. Let me offer an interesting analogy.

In a business world there are a finite number of contacts and actions that can be taken. However, when we are talking about the digital world we are talking about millions and millions of contacts or consumers and a whole lot of actions to take. But does that mean the business world never touches the consumer world? I say no. It happens every day.

Here’s another example, a mobile heart-monitoring system that can detect any changes in the heart and send an alert to a monitoring center via a cellular network. Is this a business product or a consumer product? As consumers we carry or wear them, but our doctors are the ones who purchase them—although we ultimately pay for them.

Now here’s the conundrum: Who really cares about understanding the technology? Is this something only the physician should understand? What about the individual who is going to be carrying this device around during day-to-day activities in the hopes of detecting any irregularities? It’s my contention everyone should care and the more we talk about this technology and the more consumers and physicians understand the possibilities of what can be achieved, the better the adoption for all.

Are doctors and patients two disparate, almost diametrically opposed roles? Should only the doctor care about the technology?Should the patient be devoid of understanding about what can help save his or her life? The fact is this technology is always on, always connected. Thus, as consumers, the more we know the better we can prepare.

We spend a lot of time talking with customers. And they believe vendors are not providing enough education, and that’s where the rubber meets the road. Consider Best Buy: In 2011, this powerhouse brick-and-mortar consumer electronics retailer started losing ground to Amazon, Walmart, and other retailers. Although Best Buy still held the No.1 position, stock prices plummeted, as arrogant leadership didn’t react fast enough as customers started to shop elsewhere. We all know what happened [Connected World, The Death of Best Buy, May/June 2011]. But the fact is if you don’t respond someone else will.

Here’s my point: Our world is rapidly changing. So fast in fact that the cars we drive, the homes we live in, the devices and apps we consume and interact with are exhilarating us in ways we never imagined. In this new world, our vehicles are at the center of all of this connectivity. We want seamless integration from our vehicle, our home, our energy, our health and fitness, our social media, our environment. With our always-on vehicles we can stay connected to family, friends, and colleagues with either the simple tap of an app or embedded connectivity built right into our cars.

This means we can control our thermostats, monitor home security, manage fuel efficiency, communicate the status of our personal health to our physicians, find the quickest route to avoid delays, join a hands-free conference call as we drive, check on pets while away, adjust the lights in our homes, and so much more.

With all these vehicle-specific apps, we will see development across a broad spectrum. This means we will be able to connect our cars to the network through our existing smartphones.

Our options are vast and certainly not limited to the range of services that are being offered today and tomorrow. The message here is that customers are king. To understand them means to listen and respond. That is why we believe it is not a business world or a consumer world—but a Connected World. Happy Reading!

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