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Who has the responsibility?
Voltaire said it first: With great power comes great responsibility. Others prefer a more-recent attribution, citing Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman.
Winston Churchill said: The price of greatness is responsibility.
Either way, it’s an interesting quote that raises a great question, one that was posed to me by Jase Clarke during a webinar I did a couple weeks ago: If customers have the power, who has the responsibility?
Customers certainly do have the power. They dictate the experience they desire, and they spend their dollars with those companies that deliver it. Today, customers are looking for:
- personalized and effortless experiences
- consistent cross-channel, multichannel, omnichannel experiences
- proactive communication, insights, products, and service
In a nutshell? Customers are screaming, “Know me!”
So, back to the question: who has the responsibility? My initial response was, if the customer has the power, I think responsibility lies first and foremost with the customer to tell companies what they like and don’t like, what they’re trying to do, who they are, etc. In order for companies to deliver what customers want, they need customers to give up some information; customers need to let companies know more about themselves, e.g., their wants, needs, likes, dislikes, jobs they’re doing, how they shop, why they buy, etc. so that companies can better adapt to how customers (want to) interact with them. Customers also have a responsibility to provide feedback so that companies know when they are hitting the mark or falling short.
At the same time, though, companies must also shoulder the responsibility. Yea, customers have the power, but if companies don’t take on some of the responsibility, customers will go elsewhere. They need to…
- listen to customers and act on what they hear
- capture in-the-moment feedback
- ensure that they capture information that is relevant and matters – those things that can impact the customer experience, those things that result in customers returning for more or recommending products and services
- develop collaborative relationships with customer, and
- design with the customer rather than forcing on customers what they think customers want
Don’t just listen to check a box. Get to know your customers. Listen. Innovate. Iterate.
What’s the golden rule? Those who have the gold make the rules, right? Your customers will spend their gold elsewhere if you’re not prepared to take some responsibility.
There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. -Denis Waitley
There is another phrase I like Annette…
"Power is nothing without control"
I'm not entirely sure how that plays through in this scenario, maybe there is a post in there somewhere.
That's an interesting one… definitely a post there! I suppose I would translate that to mean that, while customers have the power to dictate the types of experiences they want, they have no control over how or whether that will happen. At the same time, I suppose they can control their reactions… vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.