You struggle every day within an organization that desperately needs you, yet resents you. They think that because you focus so much on the customer that you’re some do-gooder, that you’re not real management material, that you have no business-sense. They think you live in the clouds, but you know where they live. In the past.

They think the organization is all-powerful. They think that with the right marketing, advertising, public relations and communications, they can bend the customer to their will. They think that they can set business objectives and then convince the customer to behave — often against their own interests — so that these business objectives will be achieved.

But this is the age of the customer, which means, by definition, it is NOT the age of the organization. 

The age of the organization is over. You know that. You know that value lies in serving customers well. In understanding their objectives and making sure they are successful.

You know that the future of organizations lies in finding a customer objective you can meet and making that your objective. Because if organizational objectives are not aligned with customer objectives then that organization is on a sure path to irrelevance and extinction.

What you are doing is not just good for the customer, it’s good for the organization too. And yet you are resented because you do not acquiesce to the latest program or campaign. You fail to massage the egos of delusional managers, and thus your career suffers. Because in most organizations doing the right thing for management is far more important than doing the right thing for customers.

It’s all changing. This is the real digital transformation. From organization-centric to customer-centric. The real digital natives are customers. Digital transformation has already happened among customers. They have better tools and are often more informed and better organized than organizations. 

Learning Opportunities

All this information has made customers trust themselves and their peers more, and organizations and brands less. Most organizations are so far behind customers in culture, technology, thinking. They have a lot of catching up to do and they need people like you far more than they like to admit.

You spend your time thinking about the customer, empathizing with them, seeking to observe and understand their behavior so as to make life simpler for them. You know that the more you simplify their lives, the more positively they will respond.

The problem is that to simplify the customer’s life you create extra complexity for your organization. To create an environment which is so simple the customer doesn’t have to think requires enormous thought and effort for the organization. Given the choice, the organization wants to simplify its world. That’s its gut instinct. And, of course, many organizations deliberately use complexity to confuse customers, so as to overcharge them or sell them things they don’t really need.

The old model was dependent on an unequal relationship between the organization and the customer. The internet has given customers new powers and they are exercising these powers. Stay focused. Remain optimistic. Because the customer champion shows the path to the future.

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