I hope you had a lovely summer break (or winter break for some readers 😉) or are preparing one for September. I enjoyed France in the south (Provence 🍸) and the north (Bretagne 💨). We call it vacation, but with 3 kids, sometimes the office seems quiet, right 😅?
We've just enrolled the 100th team in our Online Academy, with 70% being digital health startups. In this coaching, the magic happens when I see teams transitioning from a technology-centered mindset to one rooted in customer centricity. This wrong focus remains one of the leading causes of project failures, so let's dive into this topic today (one of my favorite ones ❤️).
You will get my vision of customer centricity and an easy step-by-step guide to improve it in your team and organization.
Get comfortable for your 5 minutes of sparks to hack.
✏ Definition of supply versus demand sides
There are two interdependent systems when developing new solutions: supply and demand.
- Supply side is your company and its offerings. It's about your business model and how you generate revenue.
- Demand side are the consumers : what is going on in their life, their needs, financial constraints, and time limitations.
When you focus solely on the supply side, you view your customers only through the lens of your offerings. It's like looking through a keyhole. Do you see it? 😜
The notion that the supply creates the demand causes companies to look mainly at the supply side. Remember, "demand is like the wind, you don't create it, you harness it".
I am not saying the demand side focus is bad; you need both sides to innovate. But where do you start? "You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around" as Steve Jobs said.
so start with a demand-side view of the world, you will save time and resources.
✏ Supply focus remains the leading cause of failure
Here is a summary of the top reasons why startups fail.
Ever since I entered the healthcare innovation sector in 2015, the main factors remained the same 😱 : no market needs 42%, running out of cash 29% (so no paying customers) and even ignoring customers 14%!
✏ In corporate, the supply-side focus is even stronger
While these statistics come from the startup world, I often observe even worse situations in the corporate sphere. Teams are more supply-focused in larger organizations because:
- Colleagues: There are many (sometimes up to 1000 😅) to consult with, including departments like legal, compliance, medical, IT, and digital, before even reaching out to customers.
- Existing Products or Services: There are products or services already in the market that need promotion and sales efforts.
- Infrastructure: Production facilities and field-based employees need to be maximized.
This is one of the reasons I believe pharmaceutical and med-tech corporations tend to innovate either less frequently or at a slower pace. This leads to missed market opportunities and increased costs in marketing and product adjustments. I have seen lately many failures in digital health solution design and launch.
So how can we shift our attention to the demand side of the world?
The solution is “simple “. It requires humility and discipline.
Here the goal is to give you a checklist to reflect on your team's behavior and ensure you are demand focus.
✏ Hire and reward the right mindset: humility
The supply-side values a posture of expertise and knowledge. On the other hand, a demand-side mindset is about curiosity and discovery. So what if in performance discussions, you highlight more whether someone learned from customers (even if it wasn’t the right solution) vs. launched as per the agreed KPI?
Demand-side focus requires a lot of humility and feeling comfortable not knowing. Look for it during interviews, and why not select less overconfident and ego-driven candidates (so more women 💪) ?
Humility for me pays off; see below one of the last recommendations I got from a client (you can see on LinkedIn who this is 🤫)
At Bambooster, we embrace this view : "The purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers." - Shiv Singh.
✏ Change vocabulary: customer-first language
You are better off being clear with them than clever with all your jargon and acronyms. Use your customers' exact words as much as possible to shift from a tech-first to a customer-first language.
✏ Build skills in unpacking signals :
Unpacking or unfolding skills refer to the ability, during discussions or interviews with customers and partners, to understand what people truly mean by the words they use: When you say you "love" this, why? How do you determine you can "trust" it?
The goal of unfolding is to obtain concrete insights from the interviews that cannot be misinterpreted. This is especially important to understand:
- What is the intent: What do "easy," "fast," and "cheap" mean to them?
- How they measure the outcomes?
Why not develop these skills instead of concentrating solely on emotional selling and storytelling?
✏ Self-reflection checklist :
Finally, these 7 questions to be discussed as a team will help you to check your supply vs demand side focus.
- Empathy and Understanding: Have we spent time directly engaging with our customers to understand their needs, pain points, and aspirations?
- Feedback Loop: Do we have mechanisms in place to consistently gather, analyze, and act on customer feedback throughout the project lifecycle?
- Solution Relevance: Does our solution address the core needs of our customer, or are we focusing too much on what we think is innovative?
- Team Alignment: Is everyone on the project team aligned with our customer-centric goal? Do they have the necessary training and resources to prioritize the customer?
- Competitive Analysis: Are we aware of what our competitors are offering? And more importantly, do we understand why our solution is better for the customer?
- Flexibility and Adaptability: If customer needs or feedback require us to pivot or change direction, are we prepared and open to doing so?
- Measurement and Metrics: Are we tracking metrics that truly measure customer satisfaction and success, rather than just internal performance indicators?
Reader, hit reply to let me know if you liked this edition or if you tried these tips. I respond to every person who writes to me!
See you in two weeks. Keep the spark alive, and be intentional :)