How Relevant Is Your Business to Customers?

Business partners shaking hands across a table

How relevant is your business to customers? Do customers see your company as a leader in innovation, quality, and service? Is your team really a team, staffed with professionals delivering top-notch solutions? Do customer satisfaction and loyalty metrics align with those of top-ranking competitors?

Ask your customers what drivers influence their purchasing decisions. Too many times, companies become irrelevant to customers because of inconsistent leadership, culture, and innovation. It’s not price that kills company relevancy — it’s the overall quality of the organization.

Quality organizations have three things in common: effective leadership, culture, and communication. You can’t code your way to effective leadership or valuable interpersonal relationships; technology is simply a mechanism for efficiency, data management, and robotic tasks. It’s not a substitute for leadership, teamwork, or collaborative communication.

Qualities of an Effective Business

Leadership

Recently, I was with a manufacturing client discussing his suppliers. One supplier was under review: According to the client’s purchasing agent, the supplier had incorrectly assumed the relationship was in good standing, and also assumed service levels met expectations.

However, this supplier had not introduced innovation for some period of time, and my client was concerned with the poor communication coming from the supplier's various departments. The products this supplier offered were actually priced competitively, but the aggregate value of the supplier had diminished nonetheless. The supplier had slowly become irrelevant.

We suggest that the aggregate value of an organization is determined by its leadership. Every department and employee in the company is responsible for customer satisfaction and relevancy.

Greater Relevancy

If a company plans to pivot and grow its customer relevancy, leadership should understand the truth about the organization. Effective discovery processes use organizational assessments and customer surveys to discover useful information regarding leadership, company culture, and customer expectations.

Relevant companies develop actionable strategies for improvement. Companies destined for irrelevancy do nothing. They file away assessment intelligence, never to be seen again.

Effectively pivoting from irrelevancy requires an actionable strategy. Actionable strategy is well-crafted and executable, influencing and upskilling both leadership and employees.

Culture

"Your culture is your brand." Culture influences the aggregate value of the brand. Positive cultures embrace communication, collaboration, and interpersonal relationships. Positive cultures are also focused on continuous improvement in job skills and career development.

Relevant companies are finely tuned to their cultural metrics. Cultural improvement delivers greater productivity, employee retention, and customer satisfaction.

Culture is also an indicator of company business practices. Employees are a transmitter of culture and a direct line to establishing customer perception. Diversity and intercompany career development help to increase relevancy. Quality cultures take better care of customer relationships.

Quality

“Quality” refers to a measurement or perception of company products and services. Organizational quality is a measurement of long-term values, achievement, sustainability, and employee investment.

Relevant companies are focused on the careful balance of quality. Irrelevant companies struggle to differentiate between the two kinds of quality. We choose our customers. We choose our risk. We choose our profit margin. Everything is a choice.

The real difference is in the team. Quality employees better deliver quality goods and services for a greater value, and customers view their relationship and investment as productive and relevant. When suppliers are solely focused on product or service quality, they fail to meet customer expectations.

Innovation

Relevancy is determined by the value that suppliers bring in the form of innovation. Effective innovation delivers new value to the customer. It’s also an opportunity to expand the professional relationship.

Leadership and culture combined drive the company’s ability to deliver innovation. Leaders who are out of touch with customers fail to recognize the value and importance of effective innovation. Passive cultures are hard-pressed to value innovation. They see innovative products and services as mere tasks, rather than the way to the future.

Passive cultures are generally resistant to change. They are a major contributor to company irrelevancy. There’s a pervasive misconception that wages are the source of cultural passivity, but leadership and expectations are the real sources.

Maintaining Customer Relevancy

When companies cease to be relevant, customers look elsewhere. The reason is simple: They are mitigating risk.

Effective leadership, culture, and communication are the fundamental sources of quality. Leaders decide whether to be relevant or irrelevant. Ultimately, the competitive nature of capitalism eventually determines company status. So, maintain relevancy or perish.

Image Credit: SmartPhotoLab / Shutterstock.com

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