"And so I was wondering: what's new about this economy. A lot. But not everything in this new economy is new. Sure, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama: Information technology is ubiquitous and rapidly advancing. Global economies are opening up. Legacy businesses are transforming before our eyes. But when it comes right down to the essence of business, it’s the same as it has always been - understand what drives a customer’s behavior and provide an experience which will attract that customer’s behavior over time. It’s still all about building reciprocal relationships. The issue today is one of emphasis.
"In the old economy, business altering technological advancements were infrequent. In addition, consolidations, due to mergers and acquisitions, were relatively rare occurrences. The competitive playing field was fairly stable. But today, new ways of doing business - of providing unique and valuable customer experiences - are springing up like weeds in a field. This increasingly intense competitive activity creates a huge sense of confusion. The good news is that when business conditions get chaotic, your customers inevitably face the same inextricable conditions. They are also overwhelmed with choice, drowning in information, time and attention starved, and therefore, confused, skeptical and frustrated.
"Remember too, that today’s global glut of business model choice has created an explosion in expectations. Customers are demanding the same value propositions across product categories. You can almost hear them asking: “Why can’t I configure my new car (build-to-order) the way I did my computer?” “How come I can’t get my hamburgers delivered like I did my pizza?” “Why can’t I do an on-line search at the hardware store, the way I do at my desk?” What they’re asking for is growth in the relationship - growth that will allow them to either maximize pleasure or minimize pain.
"The companies that prosper in this new economy will therefore be those with business designs that are defined by customer motivations and redefined to address their rising expectations. Think of it as incremental relationship development. The key to your success is to truly understand and empathize with customers’ “feelings”, and to increasingly delight them with what Tom Peters has described as the ‘look and the feel and the smell and the taste’ of doing business with you.
"Let’s face it. Customers now insist on high quality, quick delivery, consistent service and relatively low prices. These “pleasures” are expected, and as such, are not relevant differentiators. The competitive environment has made marketing and selling much more challenging. Customers can compare suppliers in real time and at any time, which places them firmly in the driver’s seat. To stand out and build a superior brand in this new “customer-controlled” economy, you must give up the need to be in control of your situation, and instead, be other-focused and help customers improve theirs."