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Can you? Do you focus on product first and only once your beautiful device or service is ready you approach your customers and tell them about all the wonderful things your product can do? I for one couldn’t afford to do that.

I still remember oh so well some of the global bluechips who have since come falling down, having focused on their precious technological inventions. They knew better than their clients what the market demand was, until no one bought their solutions anymore.

We’re now living in a very different world compared to the 1980s or 1990s, when technological leaps were taken one after another in consumer electronics and people were offered these fancy new devices that could do amazing things – things you didn’t know you needed. Since the 2000s the world started shifting towards usability, engagement and service. Not all could see the change. Some still don’t realize it.

Customer engagement, conversations and dialogue, usability in a number of forms, gamification, mobility and customer-driven product development are the newest black.

And I still only see a handful of companies really delivering on those. Ad / media / marketing / comms agencies have been selling services with these keywords for years now, but where are the services that deliver on promise? Where are the customer engagement and conversations? What are the methods of gamification that we’ve been promised to activate even the most passive consumers?

I guess the words must go through a hype phase first and some organisations ride on the hype, taking on all the new goodies, while 95% of them wait until they see the business benefits and success stories. But are the consumers waiting for You to react, or do they rather go to your competitor who’s riding the first wave?

Don’t get me wrong, first wave is only good for some, not most. Most should ride the second wave, but the distance between waves seems to be so long and it’s hard to predict when the right wave is there and when to jump. You just got to have faith… Even better if you asked your customers what they think about it, but who does that, really? Okay, Dell and Starbucks do, but who else? Apple or Nokia sure don’t do that, and I could easily drop a few dozen other names who don’t REALLY listen to their customers.

It’s crazy that we all know how upsell and cross-sell are so much easier and more cost-effective than new customer acquisition, but most companies still seem to focus on acquiring new customers and spending their money on advertising when they should be taking care of their existing customers, focus on loyalty, keeping the customers happy. At the end of the day happy clients are your brand ambassadors, they’re the ones your potential new customers listen to and follow, not you! People don’t trust companies, people trust people.

And who do you want to service? A repeat customer!

Who’s doing it right? Who’s really talking to their clients and acts upon that? Tell me! I see way too few companies forgetting who they really work for and who they should listen to. Who’s on the top of your list of great listeners?