Why you need to recognise the needs of your customers before they do

In the not so distant past shoppers used to rely on a familiar sales person, may be the proprietor of the general store in their neighborhood to help them in finding what they want. Depending on the information provided to him by the customer he would quickly deduce a product or would suggest a possible solution to it. On the contrary, the customer of today is bombarded with information regarding all sorts of products, often struggle to find a suitable product of their choice which can certainly fulfill their requirements in a given set of budget.

But where customers are struggling to find an appropriate product for their need, businesses as well are struggling to get to know their customers. One statement that I usually hear from my clients is; I need to understand my customers better, but the more I try the harder it gets. Apparently too many entrepreneurs seem to have the same issue. Let us see to the details:

1. The customer of today is prone to too much competition and thus is less loyal

This is a crucial point to ponder for industries like banking, pharmaceutical, air travel, media and energy. With this I don’t mean that other industries are less suffering from the same issue.

2. Customers are more powerful, read, and learned

Thanks to social media and the boom in technology, the internet and smart phones, customer of today has abundance of choices available at his dispersal.

3. The increment in the noise to date ratio that is powered by the internet is making it harder for companies to understand their customers

Interestingly, it’s also the internet that holds the answers for it too. Online researches, data tracking are only some means with which companies of today are trying to find answers to their customer requirements.

In order to know your customer better you can work on the following mentioned factors:

  • You need to look beyond your business interests in order to get to the core of your customer’s requirements. You not only need to understand their choices but also their supply ecosystem, of which you can also be a part of. Not only will this exercise bring a better understanding of your customer’s requirements but will also allow you to anticipate your next product move for your target market.
  • Keep a keen eye on those customers who show interest in your product initially but somewhere down the line they lose their interest. Identity that point where the interest is lost. Listening to sale calls is a good way to do this exercise. Put yourself completely in your customer’s shoes and try role playing will help you determine what went wrong and where?
  • Learning with your customers is a direct and very effective approach to get to know them better. Like for e.g. GE invited it’s to customers from China to its seminar on leadership and innovation along with its executives and managers. This approach provided an insight about the Chinese customers to GE’s executives and allowed them to understand their requirements in a better way than earlier.
  • Applying a forward thinking approach is essential for businesses of today. Try predicting and envisioning what the future might hold for your customers, like Steve Jobs did with his products, iOS devices and the mobile application development industry that is attached with it.

In order to understand your customer requirements before they do, you really need to get out of the way and think like them. Become an anthropologist for that matter and you will get valuable insights you might have not imagined about.



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