The adage that what gets measured gets managed is a truth worth paying attention to. What a customer wants is often more motivating than what they need therefore it is worth taking time to understand this and investing your best efforts to make it a reality for your valued customers.
You can best address this by listening to your customer and asking them to tell you what they want and why they want it. The fact is this, that usually customers have a burning desire to get what they want and simply want you to show them how they can get it.
When you succeed in doing that you give your esteemed customer more value, joy, and satisfaction from purchasing what they want as opposed to what they need. If you know this you will understand how to use it to your advantage.
A good example of what a customer wants would be a warm and friendly attitude on the part of a front desk official at a hotel and the careful attention to detail to ensure that the customer enjoys maximum comfort during their stay at the hotel, this is a story worth telling and can influence a customer’s choice for a particular brand.
Customers cannot diagnose their problems and come up with a workable solution on their own therefore they will eagerly turn to you and your firm for the help they need to find answers. This is where you are required to bring something new to the table when they call on you for help. When they are describing themselves and their needs customers can sense immediately when you are just waiting for a break in the conversation to attend to something else.
Years ago my father in his role as the Administrator of his company dealt with an issue for some American guests who were working on a project for his organization. I saw him go through lengths to resolve a nagging problem for them, I have never forgotten the glow in their eyes and the heaps of praises and gratitude they poured on him when he found a resolution to their challenge.
My dad wasn’t a customer service person but my takeaway from that encounter was the reaction from his guests when we had gone back and forth several times to get the issue resolved they were blown away by his sheer effort in getting to the heart of the matter. The key is for you to listen and suppress your inner voice and forget your goals it’s not about you, it’s about the customer. Researchers have laid out some core elements influencing customer wants as financial, needs, perception, and communication.
Those in financial services are good at this. They will usually aim to serve clients better by conducting regular reviews to understand their behaviour patterns to help them make decisions that enhance their financial well-being.
Customers usually believe that there is a better fiscal option and that they are being over-charged and under-delivered, budget issues unjustified rising price points, and so on.
By handholding them to achieve their financial goal through prudent decision-making, financial advisors would usually ensure that their client is on track to accomplish financial goals by helping them make an informed decision about rebalancing their portfolio if this becomes necessary based on their understanding of their transaction history.
But turn this on its head, you walk into a retail outlet and you find that half the time you are on your own. It helps to find a sales assistant who cares enough to try and understand what you are looking for specifically and eventually arrive at a choice where value for money is achieved significantly and the product choice is fit for purpose.
This underscores the importance of carefully considering your pricing strategy, take time to review your prices regularly to ensure that you are priced preferentially in comparison to your competitors and can offer the same value at a reasonable cost. Set prices that give you and your customers mutual satisfaction.
Know the difference between cost and value in your pricing decisions. A few things worth noting here are; the cost of your product or service is the amount you spend to produce it, the price is your financial reward for providing the product or service, the value is what your customer believes the product or service is worth to them.
An example here is a plumber who comes in to fix a burst pipe at your home may charge for travel, material, and labour totalling perhaps GHS 40. The value of the service to the customer is what is worth noting here so he may end up charging a total of GHS 60.
The goal is to ensure that the price is in line with the value of the benefits from the plumber’s service while also bearing in mind the prices that another plumber is likely to charge for the same service. Pricing should be in line with the value and benefits that your business provides for customers.
Customers are generally happy when they know that their need is offered by their current supplier or partnership. Most of us may have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Each individual has to need prioritization that corresponds to their physical, emotional, and financial state.
At the base of Maslow’s scale is the need for essentials such as food and shelter. These are needs that must be met at all costs. At the top end are self-actualization needs, these are needs that make us happy or feel content with ourselves.
These are closely associated with what customers want as they arise not from a physical necessity but an emotional reaction of the individual. By identifying the need or want for a potential customer or client a business idea is birthed. Taking to understand an issue that needs resolution brings you close to a need bear in mind that this is not necessarily a case for new products or services.
Very often customers and clients are unaware that they need or desire a product until they become aware of it and its value proposition. Your ability to identify how to meet unfulfilled needs or wants will set the tone for you to adequately meet them by identifying the attributes of the product or service or the amount of value required to match the need or want. Focusing on the customer’s needs and wants allows one to think more broadly of how to create value for any diverse type of person.
People are constantly searching for new ways to make their lives easier or more interesting. This emotional drive has given rise to most of the entrepreneurial undertakings that have shaped the world variously leading to the production of products such as books, radio, television the internet, and so on.
The tools and approaches available to you in this quest range from email, social media, and surveys to name a few. Use the collection of tools that will enable you to achieve the goal of delivering a unique experience to your client. It is important to note that it’s not necessarily always the case that the customer is looking for better pricing.
When a UK-based SME launched, their marketing message focused on price aimed at providing 50% less expensive products than the best-known competitor. However, when they started talking to their customers, they discovered most people had switched from the competitor for different reasons ranging from ease of use, better functionalities, better support with the customer support team, and a better mobile app.
By changing their marketing focus around these product attributes and listing price only as an additional benefit they gained the customer’s attention. Their Chief Marketing Officer had this to say, “It turned out that this was the way to go because we attracted people who wanted a better experience, rather than just customers who wanted to save money. After six months of implementing this new marketing and sales strategy, our sales grew by 18%,”
Making customers feel valued or appreciated is critical to your agenda of enhancing their experience. Know that your customers will not buy from you unless you can persuade them that you, your firm, and your firm’s offerings will truly achieve the promised results. It is almost impossible to persuade a customer to trust your products or services unless you believe in them.
You must make your confidence contagious. For example, there is a long-held perception that Coca-Cola has too much sugar and that even the CEO of the company would not recommend it to his children.
The message here is simple, that it is not enough to connect the customer needs and you’re offering. You must also connect with individuals who will be affected by your offering, and understand the value of buying from you and how buying from you will satisfy their personal needs.
According to the recent online sales statistics, 96% of consumers across the globe say that consumer service is a vital factor in their choice of brand loyalty. Therefore, be deliberate about understanding how customers perceive your product service or brand as the turn-off may not necessarily be the great price you offer or other preferable attributes such as design, discounts, and others. They are happier when they can trust you in delivering total value to them.
Being honest and empathetic with them will speak volumes of your offering and gain more of their attention than what stands out as obvious ‘giveaways’. Your transparency right from the start will help them know immediately what to expect from you. It helps in your relationship if customers see that you understand their circumstances and are actively doing what you can about the situation.
Be wary of how you communicate with your customer. According to Golden and Magee (2003) there is a problem that develops out of mis-communication, poor communication or just no communication citing that it leads the customer to believe that they are not appreciated.
Researchers believe that communication is something that can be managed as it is within everyone’s control if they believe that what they have to offer is of good value. They recommend a few action points that are likely to strike a chord with customers and get them to feel appreciated.
First, in the first portion of every month, consistently every month, identify a population index upward of fifty (50) key customers or emerging customers and provide them with a value-added communication. Second, (and this works best especially in hotel settings) realize that in hotels there seems to be pieces of stationery and envelopes in a desk or drawer.
Consider a hand-written note to “three vital fews” about something that is top of mind to you and of value to them. Third look deep your network of advocates and recognize from your vantage point whether you have customers that can actually interact with one another and benefit one another. By you connecting them together, it raises your stock value in both their eyes, and thus, may create greater business opportunities for you.
Your ability to recognize the needs of your customer will be the catalyst in recognizing how to measure oneself in the presence of the customer how to hold ones-self accountable for service leadership excellence. Getting this right ensures that you deliver top of mind experience and ultimately achieve bottom-line success.
|The Writer is a Management Consultant. He can be reached on 059 175 7205, [email protected],|