See the World Through Your Customers’ Eyes

As I read more and more Top 10 year-end lists, I realize that many of the business hits and misses center around a company’s willingness to see the world as their customers see it.  

The Good:   Apple knows that every new product they launch has to delight and exceed their loyalists’ expectations. 

The Bad:   Gap didn’t see that their new logo was so retro that it caused their customers to think the company–and by association the Gap’s customer base–were no longer aligning with fashion trends.

…and The Really Ugly:   The most dramatic illustration of having a stilted, corporate-centric point-of-view in 2010 was British Petroleum.  When their CEO Tony Hayward was interviewed on the  Today Show from a command center in Louisiana, it was clear that the setting and the rolled up sleeves were all orchestrated by a public relations firm.  When Hayward got to the question about responsibility (or culpability) and he said: “this wasn’t our accident,”  we all knew that he was blinded to the perception that nearly everyone on the planet blamed BP for this crisis. 

It doesn’t matter if you sub-contract out some of your operations to a third party.  If your name is on your product, then you are ultimately responsible for that brand. 

Have you done the same thing this year?  Do you believe one version of “the truth,” only to have your customers believe another? 

What can you do in 2011 to align your view with your customers’ perceptions?  If, and when, you do bridge that company/customer gap, how will that information and empathy affect your marketing and brand image efforts moving forward in the New Year?

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