The client is always right, but who is that client?
The concept of ‘customer orientation’ has been around for a few decades now. However, it never ceases to amaze me just how little organisations actually know about their clients. Of course, the marketing and sales managers know who the decision-makers are at their counterpart and what they need. And, most of the time, there is also consensus on the client’s main characteristics. But when you take things a little further or move slightly down the hierarchical ladder, it turns out that the client is nothing more than a rough sketch: no more than a few vague contours.
I am currently coaching staff of a medium-sized company operating in the Asian market that wants to innovate. One of the tools I use to stimulate creativity and innovation is the use of personas: client archetypes. For example, by describing a fictional Mr. Lee, those I was coaching discovered that it is difficult to read meters that have been installed two meters high. After all, the average Asian, as represented by our persona Mr. Lee, is not much taller than 1.60 meters.
It may seem like a small detail, but if you really want innovation to be meaningful, you have to know exactly who your client is and what makes him happy. And that’s not a luxury, because research has frequently shown that only enthusiastic clients become loyal clients, regardless of whether they are called Mr. Lee, Herr Müller, Mademoiselle Tournaret or Señor Perez.