Original insights in international business and marketing
“You have lots of nice rooms but no house.” This is a direct quote from a very important customer I once had. To understand his meaning I have to take you back in time. So step aboard and enjoy the short ride.
We were conducting some research on how customers perceived our brand. A questionnaire/script had been drafted and we individually contacted by phone both existing customers and non-users. The idea was to get some qualitative feedback and testimonials on just how well the organization was perceived in our markets. Turns out that while most respondents had a generally positive view on our products and technology, they almost universally felt that it was hard or impossible to have a genuine relationship with us. The times they had tried to communicate or share ideas with the larger organization, there was hardly ever any satisfactory acknowledgement or follow-up. Although they respected and appreciated the field organizations (sales & service) many felt that Marketing and R&D were particularly inept at responding in a timely manner or of keeping the communication channels open.
That wasn’t what we had hoped to hear.
Additionally, the research was trying to understand how customers also viewed our myriad of products and technologies. At the time, the company had hundreds of products from across almost a dozen individual business entities/groups. Many of these had been brought together through acquisitions. This is what gave rise to the quote in the title. An esteemed domain expert and customer gave a very simple yet very insightful analogy about our business. “You have lots or nice rooms but you don’t have a house.” He said. What he meant was that our products were individually of good quality and useful but that we had not been able as an organization to articulate how they all fit together. Essentially, he was saying that we were purveyors of individual products that did not feel as though they were tied together or that they came from a single company. That hurt. But he was right.
Is your organization facing similar issues? Are you in a business with lots of products (rooms) that don’t necessarily fit well together or create a cohesive story (house)? Share your experience and thoughts!