Everything in service of the customer
For established companies, making a certain product or providing a particular service is no longer enough. “This is how we’ve always done it” and “this is who we are” are no longer justifications. A customer-driven purpose is critical for survival. It creates context and basis for change and gives employees the motivation to drive change. Purpose also helps companies focus and make decisions that affect the long term, instead of slipping into the short-termism of Wall Street that is often at the expense of strategy and value creation.
When customer-centricity permeates the organization, the pursuit and activation of value helps eliminate operational siloes and gets products to market faster. With the customer always the main focus, companies can more easily prioritize their activities, pivot when necessary, optimize existing products and services and tap into new sources of value. Customer experience and value creation require more than great marketing and customer service. They connect the front end and the back end, from everything that touches the customer like the website and the product itself to operations, supply chain and IT.
Airbnb and its community want to “create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.” This purpose has empowered the company to make moves in service of their customers from what products to develop, markets to enter, who to hire and who to acquire. Their purpose goes beyond transactional to aspirational, further driving reasons for change, more value to customers and perpetual relevance. Initiatives like Collections and Experiences present new products that provide additional value to customers through listings for specific occasions and locally run activities. Airbnb’s impact on the travel and hospitality industry has caused traditional players to rethink the role they play in the travel landscape (and beyond), what new digital platforms they can employ and the partnerships they can tap into to drive customer value.