Everybody loves Illinois Senator Barack Obama. He has the nation in an uproar right now, and everyone wondering, will he enter the presidential race in 2008. I have stayed away from the Barack bandwagon, until recently. During a recent interview with Oprah Obama stated that he didn't take private jets because he wanted to stay grounded in reality. He said he wants to always stay connected to the needs of the people he serves because he never wants to "represent Washington to his constituents". He wants to always "represent his constituents in Washington." WOW! Immediately I became an Obama fan because he proved to me that he understood the power in understanding your customer.
Customers are the center of every business in every industry. They are the reason businesses exist...and the reason they cease to exist. When executives fail to place priority on understanding their customers, they put their companies in precarious situations. On the flip side, when they pay attention to customer needs they increase consumer loyalty, build trust and an emotional connection to the company brand. In a recent Washington Post article Steve Pearlstein shares examples of how the customer-focused approach has proven successful for several companies (and he takes time to point out the simplicity and advantages of attending to internal customers as well).
The lesson. Focus on customer needs - external and internal. As PR professionals we must demonstrate the benefit in this simple strategy.