Everyone speaks about customer centricity and the importance of the customer, but just how well do you know yours – really?
The following is a list of 13 facts you need to know about your customers. How do you score? Or if you are the boss, how many do you think your team would be able to answer?
#1. Who is your customer?
OK I’m starting off slowly, but do you know who your customers are? Not who uses your category, but who the people are that actually buy your product or service today? How much do you know about them?
Their age, gender and location are the basics, but there’s a lot more you need to know about them. Check out “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more on what you need to know to be able to describe them in the depth your boss expects.
#2.Who are your major competitors?
Again another slow starter, but what market are you competing in and who are your competitors? Do you know as much about your competitors’ customers as you do about your own? Run a SWOT to know where you stand with them – probably best to do this when you’ve read the next eleven points though.
#3. What business are you in?
Although this refers more to the category than the customer, it is important to ensure you are looking at it through the eyes of your customer. Are you in the food business or the pleasure business, beverages or relaxation? See “How to Innovate better than Apple“for more on this topic.
#4. What do they buy?
What and where your customers buy your product should have been covered in #1. Now you should look at how much does your customer spends on your product or service and how much he has available? How does what he spends compares with the amount he spends on your competitors? Is your share of category and wallet growing? If not, why not?
#5. What does your customer need?
I’m not speaking about what he says he needs, but what he actually needs; what would surprise and delight him? What does he need that he doesn’t even know he needs until he sees it? Apple again is one company that seems to be very good at getting at peoples’ unarticulated needs.
They have people queuing up to buy one of their new products even when they already have a perfectly functioning older model. Do they really need this new version? No. Do they want it? No! They desire it, they crave it!
#6. What do they think of your price?
Here consider not just the price they pay, but also the cost to them of the actual purchase. Do they buy online with packing and shipping costs extra? Do they have to drive out-of-town or even further to be able to purchase? What is the total cost to them of buying your offer? And how does the price compare to the total value they place on it?
#7. What do they think of your packaging?
Packaging today goes far beyond protecting the product inside and making its on-shelf presence impactful. It is a further medium for communications and also for showcasing your value and USP (unique selling point). Read “Is your packaging product or promotion” for more on this.
#8. What do they think of your product?
Product testing is an often overlooked essential of concept development. Even if a product is tested before launch, and supposingly does well (or it wouldn’t have been launched, I hope) competition is constantly changing so you need to keep an eye on performance over time. Annual measurement at the very least and preferably also of your major competitors is the minimum, to keep your finger on the pulse.
#9. What do they think of your advertising?
As with product testing, this is an on-going need for performance metrics. In addition, the earlier you start testing within the development process, the less money you will waste on multiple advertising concepts.
I have known companies who develop three or more ads to almost airing quality before making the final choice. Your ad agency will never complain about you working in this way, but couldn’t the money be better spent elsewhere? I highly recommend you check out PhaseOne‘s unique tool for early stage, confidential communications testing.
#10. What do they think of your online presence?
It’s not so much what they think here, but more do they even notice. Unless you know your customers’ habits online, you are unlikely to be where and when they are ready to receive your message.
Instead of choosing and using just the most popular online websites like everyone else, from your work completing #1. you should now know which are the most popular with your customers. For some brands an online presence is of minimal importance, whereas for others it actually replaces more traditional forms of advertising. Think of RedBull as just one example of this.
#11. What do they think of your SM personality?
You can’t hide your personality on social media. The words you choose for a Tweet, the ideas and information you share on FaceBook, all build to a picture in the minds of your customer. What image do you think the following Tweet built in the minds of people?
Treat your online communications in the same way as you would any other form of communications and use the same tone and spirit. Just because it’s new media doesn’t mean it is less important or serious. As the above example shows mismanagement of customer connections on such platforms cannot be removed – even if as Nestlé, you take it off your own website – it will always be there to haunt you.
#12. Why do they buy?
There are many “why” questions I could have added here, but this is fundamentally the most important. If you know why people buy and how you are satisfying their needs, the more likely you are to satisfy them.
In addition, if you continue to monitor their changing needs and desires, the more likely you are to continue doing it. And don’t stop at trend following alone; develop the trends into plausible future scenarios and you’ll be years ahead of possible changes in customer desires – not that’s a true competitive advantage! Read “Turning trends into future scenarios and the 10-step process you need to do it” for more on this topic.
#13. Why do you sell?
I’ve saved the best for last. Why are you in the business you are in? Are you looking to grow the products’ sales, increase distribution for your other products, make a different product more attractive, or are you just milking profits? All of these are valid reasons, but you need to be very clear on why, in order to know how to answer all the other questions. So why don’t you start again at the first one, when you’ve answered this one? Your thoughts might just have changed or at least been modified as a result of this new perspective.
Well these are my 13 questions you need to be able to answer to your boss, should he ever inquire. And if you happen to be the boss, why not ask your subordinates how many they can answer? Let my know your score below; can anyone answer all 13?
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