Good Morning again, David Elliott. I’d just like to talk for a few moments about extinction versus survival.
Recently a Lancet magazine published a wonderful book on the work of Darwin and his whole evolutionary theory. We’re in the middle of a pretty grim recession in the UK at the moment and every day the paper will announce of the shutting of a company, the loss of jobs, etc. etc. So I’d just like to suggest one or two things that may be helpful when it comes to trying to ensure that your company, your business survives during this whole economic downturn.
If a company forgets to put its consumer at the centre of its business then that will likely develop into a problem if the market toughens up – what do I mean by this? Well, we’ve all been upset over the years by shoddy builders, car dealers that don’t really care once they’ve sold you the car, companies that pretend to listen to their customers when in fact they don’t. Whereas companies such as Johnson & Johnson set up many years ago always believed that the key to success was keeping its customers happy, keeping its workforce happy and ensuring that the stakeholders who had an interest in the business  – that means suppliers, customers, etc. etc. were also kept happy. Then much lower down the list comes the institutions. So, they got it right many many years ago – how come companies are not getting it right as we enter 2009? I think the upset to the financial markets demonstrates that really the whole thing has gone topsy-turvy. Reagonomics and Thatcher basically had the city ruling companies performance – this then went mad and the city lost its sense of perspective. Paper was shuffled around on top of paper, and you got these ridiculous situations that have caused enormous problems – why didn’t it appear obvious to anybody on the outside? Well basically because everybody was enjoying the good times whilst they were around. However, for a company to survive, it really does have to believe that its consumer is king. The whole of its business activities has to revolve around satisfying, probably even delighting, its customers – not keeping a greedy institution, shareholder, etc. etc. happy – that is like letting the dog wag the tail, or however you want to put it.
So let’s hope that in the shakeout that those companies who have not been offering intense consumer satisfaction learn their lessons and that we get back to some sort of normality and companies prosper and the economy starts to pick up.