Scientific Customer Gardening uses the analogy of Scientific Gardening, a technique developed to optimize the best growth conditions for plants. Scientific Gardening involves computer monitoring and adjustment, it uses sensor technologies and can optimize growth conditions down to a single plant. Scientific Customer Gardening takes the same approach to business growth, broken down by individual customers. It takes advantage of the two sides of scientific gardening, to make the computer optimize the growth conditions, and to train an artificial intelligence to adapt quickly to the changing context of the data.
Scientific Gardening focuses on the 4 most important factors in plant growth: soil, sun, nutrients, and water. ‘Optimized’ growth is evaluated on the basis of a number of elements: speed of growth, volume, taste, standardization, etc. Once you have a vision of where you want to be, you fine-tune this combination of the elements. It initially happens by trial and error, but eventually there is enough experience to apply an artificial intelligence.
We have been working at the customer front for many years, across many industries and countries, so we know which elements are most responsible for business growth.
Why would you compare ‘technology efficiency’ and ‘technology enabling qualities’ in B2B to the effect of ‘soil’ in gardening?
In order to answer that it is useful to keep in mind that the customer’s view is all-important and that we are talking about a B2B relationship. In one’s private life, it may be prestiguous to own the latest iPhone, but in business it is not the brand or technology that customers are buying but rather the efficiency that comes with it. And having innovative technologies in mind, it makes sense to look at it’s value as a ‘business enabler’ i.e. how well it can generate new kinds of revenue from the same customers or to attract new kinds of customers.
The capability of any technology can be transferred into value for the customer. An important element in that process of turning capability into value is …
The focus on customer challenges
To focus on the customer challenges has the same impact of the sun in terms of gardening. ‘Value’ only exists in the eyes of the customer. For customers, value is created as an answer to a challenge. In our previous example of the cooking robot, a group 4 of customers are interested in the robot because they want to save money. This is clearly one of the capabilities of such a robot. Imagine that the value proposition of the supplier were as follows: ‘you can cook based on the recipes of the most famous cooks in the world’ (which is also one of the robot’s capabilities). Customers would probably be excited but later think: ‘But that probably requires special and expensive ingredients.’ The supplier unfortunately only hears the first three words, and is convinced it has a well developed value proposition for the robot. From the customer point of view, this value has its limits, and these limits can destroy the value that had been created before.
Value creation is one of the central topics of Scientific Customer Gardening. It has a huge amount of potential optimization. Sometimes it only requires a few words to completely change the view that customers have of the same product or service.
In B2B, interaction between suppliers and their customers tends to be more complex than in B2C. For an infrastructure supplier, like a data center, interaction is what makes the business run well. Customer service can be fine-tuned to emphasize the value or to avoid existing value being destroyed, whether that is configuration support, product service, user training, or interaction during the usage phase. It can be provided as a one-off, single support phase, or as a combination of activities to precisely address the necessities of each single customer.
Any kind of value creation requires the customer’s point of view. This is often too difficult for most suppliers. Most companies are technology specialists, focused on their knowledge of the product, service, or application. This is why most suppliers only have limited insight into the true value that are creating.
Engaging with customers is the best way to change this. Customers – despite opinions to the contrary – like to be involved. They participate in surveys and write product reviews once they are convinced it is good for them and worthwhile.
The problem in B2B is that there are so few customers. It is difficult to get sufficient feedback to to form a full picture. Customer Gardening is the solution to this problem. It takes the ‘sandbox’ approach, where an engaged customer collaborates to achieve a ‘win-win’ situation that adds value for the supplier as well as for the customer itself.
Customer engagement is the key to many data shortcomings, to adaptation problems, to product repositionings, and to innovation and business model testing. Customer engagement, however, only works if the customer can be compensated for its time and effort. But that should not be a problem for a company that really thinks about value.
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