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Helping you put the customer at the heart of every decision.

The Next Step

Welcome to my blog and this, the first entry.

I’m excited and proud to have you join me in discussing one of my favorite passions—connecting with customers. (More about my other passions in later entries–I have many and they run the spectrum from fine wines to motorsports). Many who are reading this know me very well, however, I felt it would be helpful and add some context if I began with a brief introduction of my company, my business and professional experiences, and what I hope to accomplish with this blog.

I consider myself to be very fortunate and blessed in so many ways—starting with the good luck to be the third generation of my family to lead our business—Walker Information.

Our company was founded by my grandmother, Dorothy “Tommie” Walker in October of 1939 as Walker Research Services. She did a door-to-door survey for the bank where my grandfather was employed. Seeing a business opportunity, this entrepreneur-by-necessity (the family needed the money) started traveling to New York and Chicago and developed her business. The premature and untimely death of my grandfather in 1952 made her business success even more important as she supported her two sons—the younger of which is my father, Frank Walker, then 17 years old. My father would ultimately join my grandmother as a business partner in 1960. He and his colleagues would grow our company into one of national prominence in the marketing research industry and provide many, many lessons to me.

The company has changed and reinvented itself many times over the past 69 years, adapting to market conditions, responding to competitive threats and dealing with technological breakthroughs. In future blogs, I’m sure I will reference many of the stories and experiences I have seen since I have been around this company my entire life. For purposes of this introductory blog entry however, I will refer back to the mid-1990’s when I became President and the company began to change once again.

We decided that we wanted to focus our efforts on an aspect of our business where we could be the best. In our SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis we discovered that while the business had been and done many things, what had never changed was our ability to more clearly describe and understand the truth about what customers wanted from the companies that they did business with. Through this process, our strategic focus was hatched and our journey had begun. And, what a journey it has been and continues to be.

Today, we define our company as a research and consulting company that helps our clients create value thru customer loyalty and other customer strategies. Said differently, we help our clients improve their business by placing more emphasis on the things that their customer’s value and are willing to pay for. We believe and are passionate about the fact that this is the only truly sustainable long term business strategy. This is our aspiration. It defines the destination of our journey and helps guide our daily activities and efforts.

Earlier in this entry, I referenced the good fortune and blessings I have received throughout my business career. Along the way I have met and built relationships with a group of special and like-minded people who are curious about how the customer fits into a company’s culture, structure, strategy and results. Mostly, this has been my key colleagues and key clients, but many others have been involved and made an impact along the way. Whenever we have gathered together, I have often said that no group on earth would have as much knowledge, experience and access to answer some of the questions and solve some of the challenges. Together we have advanced the science and practical applications of how to place the customer at the strategic center of a company, measure its impact and direct positive change to happen. Sometimes you have to look backwards to appreciate how far you have come on a long journey.

With the creation of Customer Connection, we are taking the next key step along this journey. Now, we will have a place to further accelerate this work—and the effort is worthwhile and will make an impact. The people and companies that we will assemble in this group will be the most advanced users of customer-focused strategy that has ever been assembled and I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together. If history is any teacher, I know it will be significant

As I look back on the last 10-15 years of our journey to connect with our customers, one constant is that everything that we were doing to help our clients could be applied to running this business. At the risk of seeming redundant, we are a customer strategy research and consulting company. But herein lies what I hope to provide through my blog entries—insights not just to what some of the best companies in the world do to improve their connections with their customers, but also give you insights into what we do with our own company and then share that back with all who subscribe to this community.

Thanks again for joining and I look forward to traveling with you.

This post was orginally published October 28, 2008 in Customer Connection.

About the Author

Steve Walker

Steve Walker

As the third generation of Walkers to lead the privately-held research and consulting firm, Steve is focused on creating shareholder value for Walker’s clients through customer intelligence and customer strategies. Steve was named president of Walker in 1994 and added the CEO title in 1996. Then, in 2006, Steve was named chairman of the board.

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