Knowing who the customers are or having good knowledge of the customers is crucial and significant for the success of any business. To remain in the hearts of your customers you should be able to provide clear and succinct answers to the following questions:
1) Who are my customers?
2) Who should our customer be?
3) What is value to the customers?
4) Where are they?
5) How do they buy?
6) How do they want to be served?
Whether your business is a newly conceived idea that is yet to be birthed or a business at an embryonic stage, or an existing organization the above questions must be earnestly answered or given thought to if you want the business to succeed and remain competitive.
Who are my customers? Or who should our customer be?
The first question addresses issues that bother on how to satisfactorily meet the needs of the customers. When you know your customers you will be able to decipher what they actually want and are willing to pay for. For example, segmenting a product market will give specific direction to your effort in deciding on the age of the consumers, their genders and product/service requirements. We know that what appeals to Gen X might not necessarily appeal to the millennial generation or Gen Y. To be a more specific product such as female sanitary towels are met for women of a particular age range so looking at ages outside the specific age might be wasteful and fruitless. Except where such effort is for future projection which supports the second arm of the question: who should our customers be?
What is value for our customer?
I did mention in a previous write up that customers dont pay for the product but rather they pay for the satisfaction or value that the product could offer them. A person who bought a car is not buying the car because it is a car, he or she bought the car simply because of the value that the car would render to him in terms of transportation, revenue generation or prestige. Your business cannot succeed until you have a proper understanding of the value that customers are looking for in a product or service. It is important to note here that no matter the resources put in the production of a product the final approval of your effort lays with the customers- the final judge.
Where are they?
Knowing the geographical location and demographics of your customers is a huge boost that will effectively position your services and products in the minds of the customers. It also has the advantages of efficient resource management and allocation for maximum impact. Markets must be effectively segmented and effort deployed to quickly and efficiently meet the needs of the customers. For instance, I have consulted for a couple of businesses whose coverage is limited to a small geographical space yet they have made so much impact by simply paying attention to their niche market. Every organization should determine where they want to play in and gradually move to a much larger market. This will enable them to learn the rope, use their resources for maximum benefits and expand subsequently.
How do they buy? Or how do they want to be served?
Interestingly we have come across individuals who despite the popularity of online stores would tell you that except they do a physical inspection or trial of the products they will never buy from an online store no matter the appeal. Knowing how your customer buys is very important. A study of Consumer Decision Journey and the Customer Purchasing Funnel will bring you to the understanding that an average customer pays attention to whether they should buy from you or not. It is just about 1 out of 5 that buys based purchase decision on impulse. In todays market consumers are specific about their decision giving the fact of scarcity of resources and the need to prioritize what to buy.
Purchases decisions are the exclusive reserves of the customer. They determine what to buy, when to buy, where to buy so it is within their prerogative to also determine how they wanted to be served.
One of the reasons why quality products fail in the market majorly has to do with lack of attention to customers needs. Mark my words, good products by the big organization with huge resources allocation to R&D sometimes fails. Let us look at some instances of such product failure or lack of commensurate impact in the markets.
AMAZON FIRE PHONE
In 2014, Amazon a leading online shopping company and one of the biggest internet based retail store failed in its attempt to effectively compete in the phone market with its Amazon Fire Phone. The fire phone had appealing features, it had over 240,000 apps, it was loaded with a flashy interface that creates a 3D effect on the home screen but yet it failed in customer reckoning.
Despite the slashed in the price of the phone from $ 199 to just $ 99, it ended up having about $ 83 million worth of unsold fire phone in October 2014.
Amazon has the money, posting $ 88.988 billion in Revenue in 2014, they have good and quality staff, the company invested a huge amount in R&D yet the phone did not succeed in the market. This gives credence to the fact that customers are to be taken seriously and their needs are taken into cognizance ab initio. You dont push a product into the markets thinking that it would sell itself without first asking the customers what they wanted.
In 2013 Google Inc. came out with its prototype of Google Glass, a head-mounted wearable glass with a unique optical display, it is a pair of high-tech glasses that could scan wearer surrounding and beam information to the retina in visual or readable format. The glass could perform voice command instruction such as take a picture, Google give me a direction to the neighborhood supermarket record a video and the glass will do that automatically. In 2013 a pair of the glass was selling for $ 1,500 in the US. But today it has been withdrawn from the market because of series of opposition to the product by customers.
Most customers expressed reservation about violation of individuals privacy, the health hazard of wearing such glasses and safety challenges. The glass was criticized for its intrusiveness and the fact that it could expose organization private decision or strategy to unauthorized persons.
According to Richard Gray Google Glass has been hailed as the future of wearable technology and a possible replacement for the mobile phone, but even before its launch it has run into trouble
Of course, it is possible that Google glass will return to the consumer market soon but that will not be done without the customer issues being addressed and resolved. Mind you China has already produced its own version of Google glass taken into cognizance issues raised by consumers.
STRATEGIC APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING CUSTOMERS NEEDS
SCAN YOUR ENVIRONMENT FOR A NEED.
By nature humans are gregarious and because we live in a community and interact with one another it becomes easier to spot and identifies needs among members of your community. Human community has been further extended to the cyberspace thereby making it convenient to connect with people miles away from your immediate environment. If you look closely you will see needs that can be met. Needs will always arise among people across the globe and some of these are necessitated by the reasons of the scarcity of resources whether human or material. Also because of the need for specialization one individual cannot attend to all his or other peoples needs. Look closely and you will see a problem that you could solve.
IDENTIFY EXITING PRODUCT GAP AND MEET IT WITH THE CUSTOMERS IN MIND
Customers taste and interest are constantly changing, often times too, existing products and services find it difficult to cope with the rapidity of change. Human will always demand new solutions and news issues would arise that existing products or services could not solve. Through basic survey, questionnaires or observations you can see some of these gaps that you can close through a new product or modification of an existing product.
MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS YOUR PARTNER
Making your customers partners based on trust, credibility, and confidence. A customer with which you have built the relationship overtimes will provide your organization with guided ideas that will be of mutual benefits. Customers inputs are invaluable and often times are seen as more reliable, why because you are hearing directly from your product or service end-users.
This day, forward-looking organization embraces the idea of customers feedback, customers opinion and criticism as very important input in decision making. It is highly recommended that feedback should be taken more seriously because it is a tool that can elicit information on customers needs.
WHAT ARE THE REAL NEEDS OF TODAY’S CUSTOMERS?
High Quality and Low Priced Product
In view of the high rate of competition, easy access to information and availability of product varieties; tomorrows customers will demand high-quality products and services at much lower prices. Tomorrows customers will not compromise on product or service quality, however; they will demand that it is delivered to them at cheaper prices.
In view of this demand organizations and businesses will have to constantly look for ways to meet customers needs at cheaper prices and at the best of quality. Google Glass at its launch was sold for $ 1,500 yet it was met with a lot of criticism but today China has produced a version of Google Glass at a cheaper price.
Give a Listening Ear
Customers feedbacks, criticisms, objections, and complaints are valuable tools that would make the organization better and at the same time delivering superior and acceptable products and services. The customer wanted to be listened to and hear out. Customers feel good when they know you give them the attention and time.
Speedy Response to queries
Tomorrow customer would love to receive speedy service delivery and quick response to their queries in a more professional and sound manner. Within an acceptable standard, tomorrows customer wants servers to be at their beck and call. For instance, we now have online stores that are willing to make their delivery to customer same day compared to some they will tell you that delivery will be made after seven days.
Effective after Sales Service
Today’s and tomorrows customer expects fast and efficient after-sales service. They lack the patience to entertain delay particularly when their complaints are genuine.
Tomorrows customer wants you to be available, they want to feel you and see that you are genuinely interested in their matters. You should be able to prove that what matters to them is important to you.
As the landscape of business is changing so also are the expectations of the customers. As a service provider, you must have an appreciable understanding of the needs and requirements of tomorrows customer so as not to be left behind. You must be proactive and adapt to the role of technologies and changes in tastes necessitated by progress in science and free trade.
Meeting the needs of tomorrows customers is not rocket science and it is within your capacity as a service provider.
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