Part 6 in the series Inspirational People.

Steve-JobsSteven Jobs is definitely one of my heroes, not only because he pioneered the personal computer industry, reinvented the music and phone industry, but mainly because of his obsession with pushing the frontiers of customer experience.

Most companies and indeed entrepreneurs can barely satisfy their customers.  Many more are happy with a good percentage of satisfied customers.  But Steve Jobs believed  in something else.  My interpretation of his life-story has led me to believe that a C.E.O is supposed to be the chief representative of customers.  The C.E.O must be the chief customer, if you will, within an organisation who drives and inspires the rest of the team to consistently produce products or services that change lives.

This is a major paradigm shift from the conventional way of thinking of a head of business.  I know from my own experience that the tendency sometimes is to be obsessed with the power and control over everything; to be BOSS.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth because the real boss is the one who pays, even the C.E.O, so that he can pay for everyone and everything else.

I often think of the perfect romantic relationship between two people.  Gradually she calls less,  visits less,  says the right words less until it strikes him that the love has actually petered away and she’s long been seeing someone else.  While a few customers may be loud about their withdrawal, many will actually disengage gently without notice and find an alternative supplier.  The rest of the story is usually told by financials and in some cases a broken bank balance.

I was chatting with a former high school classmate who had ventured into advertising.  Having published a relatively good but visibly incomplete website, I told her to fix it in order to avoid losing customers.  She responded by saying she’s a multi-award winning designer and “people call me because they know what I’m capable of.”  Well, all I can say to that is sometimes being arrogant is precisely why even the biggest companies fall and get erased from memory.

Let me archive this great video of Steve Jobs handling an insult during a presentation.  In this video he demonstrates the essence of customer experience.

Vusi Sindane