It’s mandatory these days to say you’re customer-centric. Or patient-centric. Or consumer-focused. That you’re REALLY caring about what the consumer says. That you LISTEN. Why is it then, that consumers kinda smile in disbelief, saying “yeah, yeah, right”? People know that brands are after their dollars. If brands ‘pretend’ to listen, they are skeptical. How do you credibly listen?
A. Do we watch’m or try to anticipate?
Consumer goods companies (aka fast-movers, FMCG, CPG) have a long tradition of researching consumer wants & needs on a continuous basis. “They’d only ask faster horses”, would argue Henry Ford or “People don't know what they want until you show it to them” according to Steve Jobs.
Companies should not to stop at what users tell them. They should aim for a deep sensing of what underlying needs are. Stop asking for a specific product feature. Find hidden desires. Don’t forget to check out your non-users.
B. Prove to me you listen.
Do something with I say: Be fast to innovate. Adapt/fine-tune/disrupt your offer or customer experience to resolve stated/unstated needs. If you wait too long, some tech-savvy start-up will fill the (need) gap. And since they have no core business to lose, they’ll enter with a beta-version /cheaper/ fluid & easy-to-adopt solution. Goodbye loyalty.
C. Digitalisation shifts expectation levels
Today’s customers expect real-time reactivity, BANG-ON relevance & personalization. Gone is the time where companies could one-size-fits-all & mass-market. From single product to user-focus. Ask your teams, how much % of their time are they spending on listening outside of your walls? Be it B2B or B2C, we’ve moved from physical product-producing to solution-streaming start-ups. Show me a prototype solution, iterate, learn & start again.
D. Only BANG-on insights justify a share
In today’s social world, peer to peer advocacy is the nr 1 medium. What will get Word-of-Mouth (WOM) going? Base your solution story on insight. Is it hitting a recognizable string? Is the “Aha moment” so strong that it becomes shareable? Is it “Wow”? WOW generates WOM.
Keep the pulse. Maintain contact with your targets & prospects alike. Contact enables you to avoid any need gaps. How? Technology abounds, from traditional focus groups, social media to online closed communities or blogs.
Just like any relationship, if you lose close contact you run the risk to have someone else jumping in with a fresher, more adequate solution.
Feel that itch to re-start the conversation?