If you can’t answer these questions, your business is irrelevant

We recently met with representatives from one of the largest energy utility providers in Mexico to talk about their current issues and how we might help them transform themselves.

Before we met, I created a list of 20 questions to ask them. These questions, which went into detail about their their current strategy, could give us a inside look of this company’s thinking and what we might be up against.

Here are a few questions that went unanswered and thus got these executives to shake their heads:

  1. How well do you know your customers needs? What do you anticipate your customers needs will be in the next 6 months to a year?
    A: We don’t have a deep understanding of our customers needs.
  2. What new products or services do you plan on launching next year?
  3. What customer issues keep you awake at night?
  4. How do you communicate with your customers? How do you obtain feedback? What do you do with this feedback?
  5. How does the customer know that his/her feedback is heard off and put into action?
  6. How are you making a difference in your customers life?
  7. In what ways are you making your competition irrelevant?
  8. How are you using social technologies to delight your customer? Have you thought about how social technologies can help you connect and delight your customers?
  9. How does your customer know that his voice is being heard?
  10. What new needs do you think can emerge if your customers are using social networks?
  11. What is your most recent innovation?
  12. In what dimension are you innovating? To make more money or to delight your customer?
    A: Economic.
  13. Does your customer care about you?

All but two of these questions went unanswered. If you think these guys where puzzled by these questions, you’re right. Make a difference in the lives of our customers?! What?!

There’s a reason we call ourselves Insultants not Consultants.

This is not all that uncommon, and its how the vast majority of organizations look like. They have a very superficial understanding of their customers needs and no foresight into what new needs they may have in the future. Oh, and if they do innovate, they do it for financial reasons.

Any business should be able to at least have some kind of answers to these questions. If they don’t, they are lucky to still be in business. The revolution will find them eventually.

Can your organization answer these questions?

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