Making the Customer CEO

    June 12, 2006

The key revolution of the Web is customer empowerment and engagement. The Web empowers the customer more than it empowers the organization. The implications are enormous.

There is one trend above all others that marks this out as the age of the Web. It is customer power. It is the informed, empowered, impatient customer who demands top quality service. The customer who demands a voice and an input. The customer who you simply can’t advertise and communicate at.

There is no point in making the customer king. Royalty has had its day. What you need to do is make the customer your CEO. Make them the most important person in your organization. Make them the center of everything you do.

Many organizations don’t like customers. At best, such organizations see the customer as a child that needs friendly guidance. At worst, such organizations build an inferior mousetrap and expect the customer to buy it without question.

“Let’s get this out of the way once and for all: trends are not one-off coining affairs,” states, an independent and opinionated trend firm “Some trends are worth tracking for years and years, especially if they represent a radically new definition of what constitutes value to consumers. INFOLUST is one of them. So is GENERATION C.

“From a business and innovation angle, we’d like to argue that the CUSTOMER-MADE trend, co-creating with your customers, is the most important one to watch. Not because everything has to or will be co-created in the future, but because tapping into the collective experiences, skills and ingenuity of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world is a complete departure from the inward-looking, producer-versus-consumer innovation model so common to corporations around the world.” defines customer-made as, “The phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with experienced and creative consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in (and rewarding them for) what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.”

The Web empowers the customer more than the organization because it gives organizational and communication tools to the customer that were previously only affordable by organizations. The Web also means that you no longer need to bring together a large group of people in one physical location to create an effective organizational structure.

Organizations are used to communicating and marketing at customers. The philosophy of much advertising is to see the customer as a Pavlov’s dog; someone who with repeat associative advertising will learn new tricks.

Many web teams have a disturbing lack of understanding of the customer. This is true whether the customer is a staff member for an intranet, a citizen visiting a government website, or a consumer for a commercial website. To be customer-centric you must spend a considerable part of every week interacting with, listening to and understanding your customer. There is no other way.

The websites that succeed are customer-focused. The websites that fail use organization-speak and are technology-centric. It’s as simple as that.

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern

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