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Donít fall in love with your product

While a company must strongly believe that their product can solve a customerís problems, fill their needs and be able to project this attitude with confidence and enthusiasm, it may be short sighted. 

        Products have a life cycle and in fast changing times, businesses must be receptive to changes in customer needs.

       A connection between a customer and a business weakens when it is tied to a single product. If a company experiences success with a product, they tend to resist any changes or modifications to its design or use.

This often happens with a companyís flagship product that may have carried the product line for long time. Some businesses can be blinded by a productís success.  

In the early days of American business, production and distribution truly ruled the day. Customers had little input into the products and services they would ultimately consume.

       This view was clearly characterized by a famous saying of Henry Ford whom, when asked about the colors available for his famous Model Tís, boldly replied:

  ďYou can have any color you want as long as itís blackĒ.

 Imagine customer response to such a statement today!

       This mindset was very common in the high product demand years following World War II. With pent up demand from four long years of war, consumers were hungry for products of almost every type.

 Producers dictated product features, accessories, payment terms, and service plans. The customer was dependant on the business and the business knew it.

 Today when customer behavior tells you that a product is losing its appeal, you must react or the connection will fade.  

         Changes in customer expectations should be viewed as opportunities to show problem solving capabilities.

         Continuous customer communication can result in new ways of leveraging the current relationship and pre-paves a future one.

Some companies make the mistake of trying to mold customers to their product.

          Today customers have too much choice, so the challenge is to mold the product to the customers need. The only real sustainable competitive edge is a strong connection with customers.  

This type of customer mindset does not happen by accident. Upper management with a commitment to keep the customer at its center must champion it. 

A company may not know a connection is dieing until it is too late. In many cases, companies ignore the clues that the customer is leaving. This can result in being blindsided and left with no time to react to a change in the market.

 While very few businesses would make a statement like that of Henry Ford today, some companies are still operating in the old product centered mindset.

 An innocent customer inquiry regarding a new product feature, a type of technology becoming available, or a new service they have heard about, may in fact be a strong indication that they are looking to leave you.     

 That is why a connection should not be between the product and the customer, but rather the company and the customer. A company must be attentive, flexible, and go where the customer wants to take them.  

 Donít fall in love with your product fall in love with your customer!