Apple have come from near bankruptcy in the 90s to being one of the most successful technological companies of the decade. How have they achieved this goal? Apples’ success hinges on their obsession with customer focus, which is visible via the following behaviours:
1. Identify target customers: identify key customer segments with the most potential value for your business and remain focussed whatever the rough sea of business throws at you. In contrast other technology companies are obsessed with market share and domination, which they achieve through trying to dominate different platform environments or via locking customers into unfriendly contracts. A method which works, but isn’t long-term sustainable
2. Building products for their target audience which reflect 100% their customer needs: Apple build products which are tailored to their target users, which are simple and intuitive to use; these products may not be as flexible as others on the market, but the good news is they work, and work really well, as the saying goes “Less is more”.
3. Over exceed customer expectations: Focussing on a core set of customers is great as it allows you to deliver on one key goal. The ability to over achieve against your customer expectations. This Nirvana for any business, as it creates an evangelical customer base who will happily push your products to everyone around them. This can only be achieved by focussing your customer target and organising your business around them.
4. Integrated business to deliver outstanding customer experience: From the marketing, walking into a Apple store, product packaging, and the product itself; Apple make sure the whole experience is integrated to provide the maximum customer experience.
So what’s this got to do with me, I’m not a huge global company? These lessons hold true for any company large or small. Even in my village there are businesses with the same behaviour as Apple. Even in a recession, my local pub continues to be packed night after night with happy dinners, and the pub doesn’t even advertise. The pub achieved this following similar principles as Apple; they are primarily focussed around a customer segment, and they always overachieve against their customer expectations. Consequently the business is thriving, and continues to grow through their loyal customers evangelizing their merits; so proving the value of being customer focussed. If you want to want to find out how to do this with your business, check out this useful guide to becoming customer focussed A guide to building a customer centric business