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  August 2010 | Vol. 3 Issue 8  CONNECT

Are You The Moth in the Living Room?

  By Andy Kanefield
Founder and CEO 
Dialect, Inc.

Natural organisms have sensors to help them survive in the natural world. Sidney Winter of the University of Pennsylvania points out that some moth species can detect the sonar of bats. To avoid becoming a bat snack, a moth initiates evasive aerial maneuvers to survive yet another day in the competitive animal kingdom. However, in the environment of your family's living room, these same moths can't detect the sound of a rolled up newspaper whizzing toward them.

Just like nature's organisms, man-made organizations may have highly developed sensors that help them survive in a competitive marketplace. The key is to make sure that the sensors you use are appropriate for your marketplace and gathering useful information for you. After all, if organizational sensors aren't properly tuned to your environment, your business will take the hit.

Having effective ways to get feedback from customers or clients is critical to the success of any organization that wants to sustain itself for the long term. Your customers or clients are expecting you to help them in some way; you're making a promise of some kind to them. It's critical to know how well you're doing. It's imperative that you know what your customers perceive that promise to be and that you know how well they believe you're fulfilling that promise.

Some organizations have sophisticated tools that use technology to gather critical data. In his book, Business@ the Speed of Thought, Bill Gates describes Jiffy Lube's extensive customer database that helps them track customer needs and behavior. Other organizations may decide that a brief survey or phone conversation is sufficient. The key is to know your customers and marketplace. Is your marketplace a cave or a living room?

In considering how to "know thy customer,” ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How do I determine from those who matter most (our clients) whether we are fulfilling our purpose as an organization?
  2. How do I know whether or not our clients believe we are helping them in the way we promise?
  3. What are we doing to avoid becoming the moth in the living room?
By answering these three questions honestly and implementing effective ways of addressing the answers you receive, you will know your customers better and drive the growth you want and the profit you need.


To learn more about growth, be sure to attend The CEO’s Perspective on Growth: The Six Platforms of GIL at GIL 2010: Silicon Valley, Monday, September 13, 2010 in San Jose, CA. David Frigstad deliver the keynote at 8:30 a.m.

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