by: Sigurd Rinde

A business organisation exists to fulfil a specific need of an individual, the customer.

But where is the customer on the organisational chart? Why does he not matter in the process of fulfilling his need? A perpetual state of hit and run?

Of course, hierarchies are command-and-control structures. No place there for a customer, unless he is willing to be bullied around.

A dilemma solved by an structural appendix: The marketing department.

An appendix using every trick in the book to push, entice, lure and seduce individuals to become customers. Hit and run.

From Hughtrain:

"It's not enough for the customer to love your product. They have to love your process as well."

"A brand is a place, not a thing."

In other words, include the customer - in the process, in the structure. Both places!

It starts with the customer, it ends with the customer, the customers shall be involved between those points.

Customer-centric is not enough, the customer has to be truly included.
Conversations is not enough, the customer must be involved.

Real world examples:

English Cut: The Customer interacts directly with Thomas, chooses the cloth, the number of pockets and the style when the process starts. He's involved directly mid-process in the fittings, and he's happy when Thomas delivers the suit that he's been so involved in. A collaboration. Ownership to the process and thus the product.

And he'll tell his friends. That Thomas knows already.

WebFootballClub: The Customer is directly involved in the evolution of the product (setting games strategy, choosing players, analysing games and training setup).
They have 13.000 member-customers from all over the world. An amateur club in Caen, France!

No banner ad could have done that for them.

Open Source Movement: The Customer is the producer is the organisation. Completely the non-command-and-control structure.

Three businesses, three organised processes that delivers value - organised around and with the customer.

Including the customer, letting him be active in the process. Giving him/her ownership to the product, service and  process making him a loyal recruiter of more customers.

Advertising and marketing? Huh, where?

Two realities:

Command structures and customer inclusive structures are mutually exclusive. A command and control structure cannot include a customer.

Any process that is neither complete and holistic nor include the customer is counter to the raison d'être of an organisation.

Suggestion:

  1. Rid your mind of the command-and-control hierarchy model and all that it conveys. Free yourself from the thought of marketing and management being required. 
  2. Rebuild, tweak, cajole your organisation into being a single process flow which starts with your customer's need and ends with her need being fulfilled using the resources you have at hand.
  3. Include and use the customer in that process as often as possible, see the customer as a natural resource for your organisation.
  4. See loyalty become complete. See customers finding many new customers. See product and service become better every day.
  5. See competition crumble.

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