Many companies that face business challenges will review their strategy and corporate vision to ensure that they deliver a solid product or service in the marketplace. Failure to do so is catastrophic: competitors evolve, get better, and weaken companies that do not adapt to their changing markets.
Companies that think they are customer-centric but really are not will face problems. Who offers a good example of a company that is not customer-centric? Dell.
Dell reported earnings last night that saw profits drop by 33% in the first quarter. Its customer group dropped 12%. The company pointed to its transition strategy in being an “end-to-end IT provider” as a reason for weakness. Anyone with a mild dose of skepticism would know that Dell’s problem grew because its strategy away from customer-centricity bloomed to the problems it has today.
Dell violated customer-centricity in 3 ways. By:
- Choosing the cheapest components in their line for notebooks and desktops
- Designing notebooks that were visually unappealing (excluding the Alienware and Precision line-up)
- Ignoring its fan sites in a way that would have cultivated better a communications strategy between its product and its customer
Dell weakened the link between customer-centricity and IT’s role in customer-focus in one major way. Dell outsourced its customer care to India. Ask any consumer how long it takes and how many call transfers it takes to resolve a problem when calling Dell for support. How long did it take you to resolve a problem you had with your Dell system?
No one should be surprised if it took at least an hour and several call-transfers to different service reps before getting the answer. No one should be surprised that Dell’s business is on the decline in 2012 as a result of insufficient focus on its customer.
Further debates on customer-centricity here.