"Customer partnership is a shared journey to
create a future for both parties that is better than either could have
The customer influences every aspect of your business and is the foundation
of your organization's success. In
today's turbulent times of rapid and chaotic change, "no force is more
grounding and stabilizing than a partnership with customers."1
The term 'customer partnership' we take not so much in its legal definition
of co-ownership but rather in its sense of sharing in benefits,
profits and losses of your company.
Customer partnership is more than "putting
customers first", or finding mutually satisfactory solutions to shared
problems, or a dedication to excellence in every sale or service
encounter. It also requires commitment to forging long-term relationships
that create synergies of knowledge, security, and adaptability for both
Why Customer Partnership?
Fierce competition today forces companies to
become much more creative and flexible in their dealings with customers to
give them exactly what they want –
faster. Creating a partnership with customers will help your
organizations maintain the focus you need to make good decisions and harness
the power and commitment you need to weather volatile times. Partnering with
customers represents your firm's "capacity to
anticipate what customers need even before they know they need it."2
The Role of Corporate
have the ability to
significantly change an organization, design radically new
deploy the resources required to
pursue boldly big opportunities, it is imperative that people at the top
be in regular and direct contact with customers.
Value-added through Virtual Integration
"The more you do for customers, the more of
their work that you undertake, the harder it is to to find the line that
separates you from them," writes Michael Hammer. "Companies that perform
more of their customers' work in order to
differentiate themselves from their
and earn higher margins are, in effect, integrating themselves into their
In partnership with its customers and external
innovators, BMW is constantly seeking to discover new technologies and
design features to put into future cars. To harvest the insights of creative
minds outside the BMW Group, the firm's Virtual Innovation Agency (VIA) is
the point of contact for all external innovators who do not as yet have
contacts within the firm. VIA makes it easy for car fans to communicate
their ideas through its web-site, with additional online discussions that
solicit ideas from enthusiasts around the world...
Dell Inc. start their innovation process with asking
their customers, "What would you really want this thing to do? Is there a
different way to accomplish that?" Then they meet with their suppliers and
ask, "Can we do this in a different way?" Then they try to come up with a
totally different approach that exceeds the original objectives...
Nypro designed new injection process for each customer, sharing
insights with the customers' own engineering and marketing teams to solve
their specific problems. They worked together: partners in innovation. Nypro
situated its new plants next door to its customers and integrated its new
process with theirs...
Corning keeps it's customers, end-users and OEM suppliers well informed of its product development
plans. It uses
road-mapping as a
co-innovation tool that allows customers
and suppliers to work together to build products...
Involve customers, urged
Jack Welch. Quality program is aimed at enhancing
satisfaction of your customers.
Find out what customers want. Involve them to participate in your work,
to drive it, to "manage your enterprise."...
Customer-driven Innovation: 7 Practice Tips
in testing the
prototype of your