Definition: Customer orientation is a business strategy in the lean business model that requires management and employees to focus on the changing wants and needs of its customers. In other words, it’s a company-wide philosophy that the customer’s wants and needs are the first priority of all management and employees.
What Does Customer Orientation Mean?
Most modern companies have transitioned to a more customer-oriented approach to product design, development, and marketing strategy, but a company that truly embraces this idea changes it’s entire operations to fit consumer needs. Take a manufacturer for example. Traditionally, a manufacturer employee never had a reason to be aware of the consumers’ wants or needs.
Management would introduce products and the employees would be in charge of producing them according to the drawings and plans. Modern companies focus on educating employees about consumers’ needs, so they can change their operations or even suggest changes to management that would benefit customers in the long run.
These companies know that customers’ wants and needs are always changing. The technology industry is probably the best example of this. In the 1990s, consumers were buying desktop computers for their homes. In the early 2000s, these desktops were being replaced with laptops. In the 2010s, these laptops are being replaced with tablets, phones, and other smaller devices.
As you can see, consumers’ wants and needs are always changing. A company with a customer orientation focuses on what it can do to accommodate these changing needs and even try to anticipate them in the future. For example, Apple realized that the tablet market would be huge. Consumers wanted a tablet, but they weren’t satisfied with the current market selection. After listening to what people wanted, Apple introduced the iPad.
Unlike manufactures, retailers have always been in tune with what their customers want. This practice is by necessity. Brands like Circuit City went bankrupt because of its lack of customer focus.