Sunday, October 08, 2006

Principle of Possibility: Managing Customer Expectations

It would be difficult today to find a company that does not proudly claim to be a customer-oriented, customer-focused, or even customer-driven enterprise. But when we look little closer at how these companies put their assertions into practice, and often we discover an array of notions and assumptions that range from superficial and incomplete to misguided.

The idea of Principle of Possibility (POP) originates with the understanding of customer expectations management which is still an untapped platform of understanding customers’ needs, wants and desires. The idea extends the various customer orientations approaches towards a new paradigm of discovering and delivering the known and unknown customer expectations. It relies on four different applications or process innovations which have been named as; predicting the imminent, customers, economics and alignment.

The companies which follow the Principle of Possibility (POP) start by addressing that expectations gap. They become expert at revealing and articulating those mismatches, and they fashion comprehensive solutions to fix them. The Principle of Possibilities (POP) lies in a simple strategic word: Anticipation. And it is all about being proactive, watching things before others do and making things happen. Principle of Possibility (POP) stands on four key elements; Predicting the Imminent, Customers, Economics and Alignment. Herein the goal is not to just predict what is going to occur in the market but it is more about identifying and understanding potential opportunity which starts with a customers’ expectation, known or unknown. In the Wall street driven market if a company needs to survive it has to predict the imminent and the need would be to see the world through their customers' point of view. If the company can identify and develop the profile of the product user who is perceived by the customers to be an expert buyer in that product category and involve that product user in not only product but process development the company would be able to achieve economic balance of resources. This product user would also assist the company in word of mouth advertising which is one of most reliable and fastest growing domain of communication in e-era. Aligning these different viewpoints with company’s present and future potential resources will help a company to understand the customer expectations and produce products and services by which they will be able to manage the present and future customer expectations.

Research has also shown that most companies perform parts of the above stated process. However, more than two-thirds of them fail to satisfy customer expectations. The need of the hour is to integrate and implement the complete process and Principle of Possibility (POP) can help them do that. Principle of Possibility (POP) is more than being customer - driven and sensitive to customers' every expectation. It is about those companies which seek solutions that exceed the customers’ expectations. They open commercial opportunities for their customers and for themselves by actualizing unrealized potential and forestalling problems. They push the traditional boundaries until they find and deliver the best total solution for each and every client.

The application of the concept starts with proactive research of understanding customer expectations, which is still largely a domain controlled by some MNCs. The research is than applied to create a customer’s profile that for a specific product category can be determined as a ‘group influencer’. For example, if a customer is planning to buy a washing machine there are more likely chances that s/he will ask a friend who would be an technical expert and a user of a product instead a non-technical person. The same customer when buying apparel or some other trendy product or service is not likely to ask a technical expert friend but more likely to ask a friend who is fashion conscious. If proper profiling is done with the product or services under review and if those ‘group influencers’ are used in the process of product and process development there are higher chances of product or service being successful in the market. Another advantage of doing the same is that this ‘group influencers’ can become a powerful word-of-mouth communicators. So an organization by just using Principle of Possibility (POP) can have multi pronged advantage in customer involvement, profiling, product and process innovation, communications, as well as strategic planning and implementation.

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