Customer Inspired: How to Achieve Growth in the 21st Century

What do In-N-Out Burger, Ace Hardware, Trader Joe’s, Kaiser Permanente, Nordstrom, and Mary Kay have in common? Here’s a hint: none are leading advertisers. Yet all are cherished by consumers over their industry peers.

Why? Because these brands know that relying solely on the decades-old model of “pay to play” – that is, outspend, out-market, and out-advertise the competition to gain mind and market share – no longer produces a sustainable return. One client summarized it best: “we continue to mortgage our customers.”

How, then, can companies continue to grow in the 21st century? How can they create new value and innovate fast and flexibly enough to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive and chaotic global marketplace?

By changing the way they do business. Not “mortgaging” their customers but rather investing in customers as active business partners. Companies must maintain an open dialogue with customers to stay relevant in their lives. Continue to build genuine empathy to deliver superior customer experiences. And make people feel rewarded and proud to be customers. Operating in this way represents a fundamental shift for companies. Yet this is what truly customer-centric companies do to adapt, stay profitable, and grow.

Over the last year, we have conducted research that corroborates the efficacy of these behaviors. Customer QuotientTM (CQTM ), our innovative approach to measuring the nature of the customer-company relationship, is grounded in what customers, not companies, really value. CQ includes familiar measures of loyalty and experience, but reframes them from the customer’s lens to capture what desirable corporate “relationship behavior” feels like from a customer’s point of view. CQ shows that those companies that genuinely understand and connect with customers outperform their competitors.

Manila Austin, Ph.D, Vice President, Research, C Space

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