Everyone needs to understand their customers better, but it’s getting harder and harder. Here is what’s happening:
- Customers are less loyal than they used to be and far less trusting, especially in industries hard hit during the financial crisis.
- Customers are more powerful than ever before; think easy, on-line comparison shopping, social media and increased choices.
- Economic uncertainty and abundant data confuse customers. They’re not only interested in products and services, they want flexible solutions.
What can you do to get in your customer’s head and find out what they really need?
- Be your customer for a day. Look beyond your business and be aware of the choices your customers have: suppliers, partners, one-stop-shops, etc. This will deepen your understanding of the competition.
- Staple yourself to a customer’s order as it flows through your company. Does the system work smoothly or run into glitches from time to time? What could potentially cause your customer frustration?
- Seek input from front-line employees. Send employees from different departments to visit your customer. One company I know sent a shipping clerk and the Quality Assurance Manager to tour a customer’s facility. They both came back with new insights and ideas on how to improve the customer’s experience.
- Anticipate! Lean in and focus on what your customers will want tomorrow. Envision different futures and your role in each.
Now that you’re focused, check out this 2 minute video on understanding customer needs.