Two stories in today’s New York Times struck me as bellwether examples of why customers — in the long run — ALWAYS win.
And, why it does little good to try to “fight” them, if you are a finance or technology manager.
Story one — Leo Apothaker is out, Meg Whitman is in at HP.
Obviously, there are multiple reasons why this occurred. However, note this important part of the story, “The uncertainty about the future of the PC business also created uneasiness among the company’s big corporate customers, causing concern among H.P.’s board that it could contribute to weakness in its PC sales.”
When customers are uneasy and uncertain about you and your future, they will naturally seek alternatives. And, what happens to ANY business — from a behemoth like HP to a corner grocery store — when customers go someplace else?
Story two — More offices are now letting workers choose their devices
Over the years, I have had many people tell me…as I am hooking up my MacBook before a speech, or even years ago when I was using a PowerBook…that they, too, would switch to Apple, if only the corporate IT office would let them.
As the Times’ article states, “Throughout the information age, the corporate I.T. department has stood at the chokepoint of office technology with a firm hand on what equipment and software employees use in the workplace.”
However…eventually…the customer ALWAYS wins, whether he or she is an external — or internal — customer.
(You may be saying an internal customer doesn’t always win — there’s lots of times you have to put up with something on your job you dislike. My point is that you can win — you either are less productive, because you think you aren’t receiving compelling leadership (which means the company loses) — or, you can choose to quit and work elsewhere (which means the company has lost productivity in training your replacement, and incurs the costs associated with such a change) — either way, you, the internal customer, has control.)
Kraft Foods, for example, is now providing stipends to employees, and THEY get to choose whatever laptop they desire from an Apple Store, BestBuy…or wherever!
Now, here’s where it gets REALLY interesting. What this means is companies that have connectivity with regular people — typical consumers — are selling more devices. Those companies focused on B-to-B sales with IT departments and less on the individuals who would actually be USING their devices — think RIM’s BlackBerry or Dell — are losing sales.
At a Cisco meeting I was addressing a couple years ago, CEO John Chambers held up his iPad and said, “This is the first Apple product I’ve ever used at work.” Ted Schadler, an analyst with Forrester Research, agrees in the Times’ article, saying, “What broke the camel’s back was the iPad, because executives brought it into the company and said ‘Hey, you’ve got to support this.’”
At every presentation, and in my books, I ALWAYS try to convey that it is much, much easier to talk and write about an Ultimate Customer Experience ® than it is to actually create and deliver one — internally AND externally — at your organization.
However, to fail to do so — over the long run — is infinitely more painful.
Because…sooner or later…the customer ALWAYS wins.