People in business have been accustomed to living by the adage "the customer is always right". This concept is often taken so literally that it is generally misunderstood. A business shouldn't conduct itself based on everything a customer says and demands. There are always those who are unreasonable, antagonistic, or a waste of time. And those people are the exceptions.
Although it isn't some arbitrary standard, the reason most customers are right is the fact that they are spending their money, therefore it is only fitting that they look for companies that do business the way they want.
According to a recent study by analyst and research firm Ovum, 90% of companies fail to adapt to their customers' new ways of doing business. It takes more than pleasing manners and smiles to keep your customers close. Companies need to be watchful for important clues and opportunities that will help them ensure their relevance to their customers and avoid having their customers look for another brand.
Many CRM applications are available for companies to track and analyze customer behavior. Still, companies aren't able to adapt to their customers' changing behavior and ways of doing business for these reasons:
Slow decision cycles: Being able to figure out what customers want and how their behavior is changing does not guarantee timely action from the company. This happens when management follows customers through a distant maze; by the time the business catches on to the issue, customers will already have turned to another brand.
Managers encourage other priorities: Employees aren't motivated to maintain and improve customer relationship. It's easy to blame the employees themselves, but it's the responsibility of the managers to motivate their staff by properly designing compensation and incentives. In other words, people at the top rung say customers are important, but they probably encourage other concerns instead.
The data isn't helping: Operational and channel archives slice out data, effectively treating customers like some sort of composite. Some data might belong to sales, while other behavioral data could be held by operations or marketing or accounting or customer service. The more indirect the sales channel, the more data held by other parties.
A "serendipitous attitude toward innovation": Not enough time, budget, or other resources are focused solely on finding better ways of doing business that will match the directions customers are taking. Just waiting for something smart to come up instead of doing research won't get you anywhere.
There is no quick solution to win the race. To address the issue of adapting to customer behavior, change the way your employees work and how processes in the organization are handled. A tough type of change to undertake, but would you really rather watch your customers walk away?