Every company is challenged with problems. That’s what makes business, business. How companies deal with challenges or problems is what differentiates the good from the bad. Problem solving in business is where things are won or lost. Understanding this, the choices companies make when it comes to solving problems provides tremendous insight into whether a company is customer centric or narcissistic.
There is a very simple test to determine if a company is narcissistic or customer centric. When faced with a substantial problem that is hurting company profits, revenue, etc., a customer focused company solves it from the customers perspective, a narcissistic company solves it from their own perspective?
In todays world of increasing cloud applications, the reliance of tablets, phones and other mobile devices to access these applications has never been more critical and it is growing by the day, for both personal and professional use. How many cloud services do you access in a day? I use; the web, email, Pandora, DirecTv (Sunday Ticket and Regular Tv) Netflix, a CRM, TweetDeck, WordPress, Kik, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Cinemamgram, WSJ, Evernote, HBO GO, and more. Every one of these applications requires data connectivity and therefore increases my dependency on my mobile carrier.
This is where it gets interesting. We can all agree that the dependency on data is increasing by the day. Yet, two of the major carriers made the decision to end their unlimited plans. Thereby increasing the cost of accessing cloud services and applications for their customers.
Let’s be clear, the stress on the networks was becoming unmanageable and burdensome. They had a problem. Their subscriber base was putting substantial strain on the network because of the increase in data, especially with adoption of the smartphone. The problem is real and needed to be solved. Unfortunately for ATT and Verizon they chose to solve it by focusing on their needs and not the customers. Their solution was narcissistic.
In an effort to solve a very big problem, AT&T and VZ terminated their unlimited plans. This solved their problem, however it created a problem for their customers. Customers now have to be more diligent with their use of the cloud and connectivity. In essence, by ending the unlimited plans AT&T and VZ have disrupted their customers workflow and use of their mobile devices. Because ATT and VZ had a problem their customers had to “change” how they use their mobile devices to avoid getting pounded with overage charges.
Cloud applications and reliance on mobile devices is NOT an outlier phenomenon. It’s a rapidly growing daily function for most people. AT&T and VZ’s decision to eliminate unlimited plans puts them in direct odds with where consumer trends and usage are headed.
How did they get here? It started with a real problem. Demand for data was overwhelming and crushing their network. A real problem requiring a real solution. It’s from this point that things get sideways. AT&T and VZ asked the wrong question. They asked the narcissistic question, “How do we limit the demand on OUR network?”
They should have asked a different question.
“How do we meet the growing data needs of our customers while at the same time decrease the impact to our network?”
This question adds “customer” to the problem solving challenge.
Without a doubt, when we add the customer’s needs to solving business challenges it becomes far more difficult. It’s a lot easier to solve business challenges without adding the customer to the equation, especially when the problems are negative revenue, profit or capital intensive problems.
The complexity of the problem does not excuse narcissistic behavior. When companies don’t add customer to the problem solving equation, they aren’t customer centric, they are narcissistic. Selling in a narcissistic environment is hard. Customers see it and take their frustration out on the sales people.
Is your company truly customer centric or narcissistic? It’s easy to tell. Look at the problem solving process. Does it include the customer?
For ATT and VZ eliminating unlimited data pricing was a real, viable solution to the data network problem. It just wasn’t a customer oriented solution. It was the most obvious and least creative. It solved the data network issue for the short term. But, it also created new problems for their customers.
When solving a company problem creates a problem for the customer, that’s narcissism.
Include the customer in your problem solving process.