Definition: I do work that clearly satisfies my customer. The primary beneficiary of my effort is my customer.
- I understand my customer and their business
- I always ask if there is a better way
- I do things for my customer that I would want them to do for me
Clearly, Create Customer Value is our first principle. And I mean that quite literally: It is our number one priority.
Some of the ways for us to gauge what a successful Decisive Data outcome in 2017 would look like flow precisely from this:
- Clearly satisfied customers.
- More profitable growth.
- Strategic offerings that are set up successfully by a 3-5 year roadmap.
- Increasing the investment in Decisive Data’s culture and people to continue to ensure that it stays congruent with our mission, vision, objectives, leadership attributes, and principles.
If those are four key outcomes, there is a clear reason to that order. Clearly satisfied customers are the baseline for how we make money as a business. They have received enough value to remain interested in spending the capital they have allocated to purchase services. If they are satisfied, their loyalty and respect for acquiring those same services is firmed up. People primarily decide to change to a different supplier because of dissatisfaction! They are simply motivated to find the same service from different supplier. The next most relevant factor is (of course) price; but even then, a highly-satisfied customer will readily pay more!
Unless we create clearly satisfied customers, we won’t actually have the ability to generate profitability, and that puts an end to our potential for growth. Decisive Data won’t be able to craft that road map nor be able to reinvest capital for culture building. It all starts with being the kind of company where customers want to loyally spend money on the services we provide.
Note also that the four key successful outcomes climax with our reinvestment in Decisive Data’s culture. Frankly, the main measure of how we reinvest must be the fourth item in this chain. Consider, for example, Amazon. They are currently differentiated by reinvesting the majority of their capital in infrastructure: marketing, cloud computing server farms, networks, inventory/supply chain, robotics for warehouses, drones, etc. This is their strategic choice about how to allocate their free cash flows and capital.
At Decisive Data, we want the people of DD to be a primary differentiator when it comes to how we reinvest our cash flows and capital. We believe this will help increase the value and the congruence of what we offer our customers. We are pushing the culture to a higher level of priority relative to our desire to continue to maximize creating customer value. This is accomplished through recruiting and retaining people who are congruent with our principles and values, and we believe this feedback loop of a more engaged, satisfied, connected employee culture has a material impact on creating customer value. The idea is to push our people to have this, and one fosters the other in “a virtuous cycle mindset.”
We want to provide customers the confidence that DD provides them the right services and offerings at the highest possible quality. We are then already going to have the competitive advantage of differentiation by being “the kind of people they’re looking for.” Creating customer value is the factor that makes our people the most likely to be effective directly to their client. If I buy a book from Amazon, I’m stoked if it shows up in one to two days every time. We want our customers to be stoked about our people! We want our customers to find value in our services, yes, but specifically in who they’re working with.
It is quite easy in our context for the primary beneficiary of our work to be, well, ourselves: a raise, promotion, job change, etc. There is, of course, nothing wrong with pursuing these things. But over time, if you are not interested in creating customer value, this becomes unsustainable. As a consultant, you will lose steam and ultimately become less valuable if the primary beneficiary of your efforts is yourself. Thus the second half of that definition is supposed to help guide how we calibrate our expectations for what kinds of benefits should be derived from a consulting engagement.
Seth Godin offered some recent thoughts which are quite apropos to our topic (numbers and comments added by me). “The purpose of a company is to (1) serve its customers. Its obligation is to not harm everyone else (2… a bit of an omission vs a mission 😊). And its opportunity is to enrich the lives of its employees (3). Somewhere along the way, people got the idea that maximizing investor return was the point (4). It shouldn't be. That's not what democracies ought to seek in chartering corporations to participate in our society. The great corporations of a generation ago, the ones that built key elements of our culture, were run by individuals who had more on their mind than driving the value of their options up.”
I couldn’t agree more.
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