- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

‘Customer Obsession Disorder’ is gaining ground. Bad idea.

Perhaps because custumer focus was not enough, we created customer centrism. Apparently this is not enough and we now need Customer Obsession. That’s it. The whole focus of customer-latest for the prestigious research firm Forrester is Customer Obsession. It’s not only Forrester. As a well balanced comment from Ross Freedman [1] points out, it’s all over the place.

I think it’s a very bad idea.

I appreciate the semantics and the drive towards serving the customer well, meeting their expectations, and beyond the expectations, and exceeding them, and even in pan-galactic delivery of expectations.

My first question to the obsessed people is, why now? I thought this is at least 40 years old. Why now? Perhaps it’s not the era of Customer Obsession, it’s the era of Customer Fear. Why? Because the customer has choices, many, too many and too digital? Perhaps. Because it can leave you a star in the Trip Advisor or a poor red smiling face at the exit of the toilets in Heathrow airport, or after Security? OK, so you are afraid. Of what? Of the algorithm? Of the target imposed by your boss, not by any customer?

I travel via Heathrow almost every week of the year. I have never asked them to put smiling face electronic dashboards in front of me outside Security and outside the toilets. In fact what I have seen, many, many times is the passenger in front of me being reminded by the security staff that those bottles of water could not go through, sorry, and hitting red face ‘awful security services’ at the exit, in front of me, once both of us have rescued our belt.

I am a customer. I don’t want anybody obsessed with me. I want a human interaction and a decent service. And a decent product and a decent price. If you want to do something for me, you are going to have some trouble ‘exceeding my expectations’ because that assumes that you know what my expectations are. And you don’t. You have never asked me. If you want to do something ‘extra’ for me, here is the tip: surprise me.

I am afraid that the Era of the Customer and Customer Obsessions sounds very desperate to me. A desperation for possessing all data about customers and pleasing above all with not much critical thinking. Being customer obsessed, we could accumulate a thousand good positive reviews of our mediocre product.

Customer feedback is feedback, which includes the word back. No forward
Innovation will not come from customer obsession. Custumers are not the source of innovation. Not today. I don’t know what that happened, but I may have missed that
Culture that is open and embraces the customer will not come from Customer Obsession.
Changing the world will not come from Customer obsession
A fairer society will not come form Customer Obsession
A high purpose for the company will not come from Customer Obsession.
Surprising me as customer will not come from that kind of obsession.

Here is an hypothesis I propose for the Research People: how many companies are there, small and big,  doing an excellent, outstanding, successful, profitable and proud job with customers, and will not consider themselves ‘customer-obsessed?

My bet is that the more obsessed, the more paranoid. Another illness.