Most companies on this planet are conceived from the inside out, starting with the offering. They have some kind of service or product, in various forms, and they want you to buy it. Their entire structure exists to support the offering, and find customers that match it.
Take new car dealerships, for example. Typically, they are contractually bound to one manufacturer and sell that one manufacturer's whole range, from sports cars to people movers to citymobiles to executive saloons. The upshot - a typical car dealer has a showroom full of cars - and about one particular model which is of interest to any given customer.
It's a nightmare for the salespeople ("should I dress fashionably or conservatively?"), and it's a nightmare for the customer ("I want a cheap runabout - I'd better go and visit six different dealers...").
At familycars.de the concept is far smarter. They sell only family cars - from a bunch of different manufacturers, and out of a single showroom. The whole experience is well designed - with activities for kids, childcare, family-friendly opening times (a miracle in regimented Germany), play areas inside and out, free dvd players for those long journeys - and even family-oriented financing.
But their approach goes far beyond experience design - it is a completely customer-centric service design, from the core out. Brilliant! Terrific! And they are quite deservedly being showered with prizes...
If you think about it, it's an obvious path to success. So...
... why are there still a thousand Product Managers out there for every Customer Segment Manager?
Photo by freeparking at flickr