Should be called blabkarma...
I have to quit browsing around on the topics I blog on AFTER I blog on them. The entry on The Long Tail leads to ChangeThis... and an entry. The entry on ChangeThis leads to Seth Godin's blog (a must-read if you're into tech and marketing, or just marketing) where I see an entry on Customer Needs... and now I write another entry. When will it ever end?!
The company I'm slaving for is growing, and a couple of the areas we're strugging with (IMHO) are the corporate identity (not just image, etc., but who we really ARE) and the brand, or maybe in a word - marketing. Good news is we're rearranging folks and applying additional resources, so I'm sure we'll improve (who ever heard of an annual $150M US firm not having a marketing department?). For my little part, I have a keen personal interest in how we aggregate the goodwill we create with customers/partners.
So I'm reading Seth's blog and trip over a great model from a firm called The Phelon Group. In looking at (tech) customers' needs, the authors created a parallel to Maslow's Pyramid they call The Customer Heirarchy of Needs.
Don't Sue Me - Its Acceptable Use
Although I've never seen the views expressed quite this way I've lived this hierarchy - from first hand experience I can tell you its accurate, and its real-world. Very interesting stuff... and in my estimation applicable much more widely than Tech. If you're interested in building customer relationships that not only last but can also be leveraged to the next customer, read the white paper - it will at least spur some interesting thoughts.
A dear friend at Motorola - Jan Bates - had a sign posted in her office that said...
The value of any product or service is EXACTLY what the customer says it is.
How true. Are you (systematically) meeting your customers' needs?