Organizations work extremely hard to develop a customer base. Yet, with a fast-paced changing world moving all around us organizations need to change rapidly to stay in business. This change could result in a changing customer base. When an organization makes a commitment to embrace change and follow a paradigm shift they need to be aware of all the changes in their customer base as well. The customers that a company has worked so hard to develop may completely change, broaden to a large base, or they may lose some customers and gain different ones.
Sometimes a paradigm shift causes a customer base to completely change. Take for example – Motorola. Motorola was an appliance company but in 1964 they decided to get out of that business and gradually become a semiconductor company. Within 10 years their entire customer base had changed. Motorola made a huge change in the way they did business and became an industry leader in a new business. They accepted that a gradual change in customers was essential to their long term survival.
Sometimes a paradigm shift allows a company to keep a portion of their existing customers and gain a new set of customers as well. Take for example a luxury home builder. For decades they have built luxury homes in a community. Their commitment to quality has given them a loyal base of customers who refer them to others in their social set. Unfortunately, the combination of the loss of large corporations in the area and a worsening economy has eroded their customer base. However, they see an opportunity to use their building expertise to take advantage of the need for condominiums and apartment buildings in the area. They haven’t completely given up their customer base but have developed new customers.
Lastly, a paradigm shift could allow a company to keep the same customers. For this example, we will look an industry who failed to see a paradigm-shift and lost because of it. The Swiss watchmaking industry failed to take advantage of digital technology and lost their customer base to Japan. However, if they would have embraced the paradigm-shift to digital they could have largely kept their current customers and taken advantage of the shift.
It’s the simplest fact in business – customers are the reason we are in business. Organizations need to be constantly examining how our customer bases will grow and change as the result of paradigm-shifts. This factor is possibility the most important aspect companies need to consider as they embrace the changes that are inevitable in their industry.