Updated: Jan 29
Why do we prefer some companies to others? How come one company provides a better product, service or experience? How can we as a company do more for our consumers? What do users really need ?
Today's business environment is 'the age of customers'. This includes a tense focus on changing customer needs, global markets with fierce competition, embracing big data, information overflow, companies rising and falling in the blink of an eye. I believe, success comes from keeping a keen eye on customers, their lives, needs, desires and deliver what they crave.
This upcoming duo of articles we will be examining the key components of customer centricity. We are going to see first why we need to focus on our customers every step of the way, and who are these customers. We are going to continue the journey in next week's article to explore what we need to know about customer focus and how to put in more in practice.
So put on one shoe of the professional and one of a customer and come along!
WHY we need to (re)think about customers
Welcome to the age of customers, where customers rule, and the game is different! They know more about our products than ever, they communicate with us and about us, they want more, different, better, easier. Customers want to feel special, appreciated and connected.
Look at the statistics: generation Y spends 30 minutes more on research per purchase than baby boomers. 40% of customers leave a website if it does not load in under 3 seconds.
1 out of 4 purchases involves at least 2 touchpoints (web, mobile, store, etc.). 75% of clients online expect a reply with 5 minutes. They are more willing to buy, and pay more for a personalised experience in 77% of the cases. They are willing to switch companies if they feel more like a number than a human (in 66%), and expect to be provided an excellent experience on a constant basis (92%).
(If you are interested in more statistics see here: https://www.customerhappinessscore.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics-every-business-needs-know/)
There could be endless statistics made. New technology enables more precise research, and there are so many changes in behaviour to examine. Consider it from your personal point of view: how did your behaviour change? 10 years ago I bet you were waiting patiently till the internet dialled in, and a few minutes even to load a favourite website. I bet you did not check out a brands Instagram page before buying something.
Not just behaviours, customer needs changed as well. With a growing middle class people are living better than any time in history. Basic healthcare is more accessible to many than before, life expectancy is longer, salaries have risen and we have greater discretionary spending. We can say, we have climbed to the upper levels of the Maslow pyramid. We need to feel part of a community. We need to be recognized for our status. We need to express ourselves.
We lead very different technology enabled lifestyles, we are rushing to see, do, experience and hustle. Sometimes we do not even realize what we need. There are amazing companies out there, who see the things we did not even consciously want and making it happen. (Personal example: I never knew I needed a program that puts together music according to my mood and what I usually listen to. Now it would be hard to give it up! )
Currently there are 45.508 companies listed on stock exchanges around the world. And these are only the big fish. The rest is plenty of companies, growing locally, globally, on kickstarter, in start up incubators, garages, etc.. With so many companies competing, and a lot of them succeeding giving an amazing experience our expectations are way higher. This competition is regardless of industry, product- as soon as any player provides excellent service to a customer, any rest will not be so great. I will tell you a practical example- one day I had to close off my dutch bank account. I was looking on their website, where I saw that I can ask questions on FB messenger. I asked on messenger about how I can close my account. I have received a reply in 2 minutes and my account was closed in 2 days. Effortless, kind, fast, easy. My level of expectations to all companies has just reached a new level.
WHO do you think your customer is
You could think- "Oh, but I work in B2B, I don't need to think so much and complicated about customers." or "I make industrial packaging machines I will never need this".
Think again. You always have a customer. There is always someone depending on the quality of your job. The beauty of society and business is that we all depend on each other's success.
The next time you think about your team of employees, try to see them as complex customers. What is it that they need? What are they expectations?
In B2B companies- see who your final consumer is in the supply chain, and what could they need. Could I help my client to make a better end product? If so, you would be a more attractive partner in your field.
Whichever part you play, regardless of any department- think of the true need of any customers to up your game. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you as well act differently than you used to, what were your needs and expectations, what changed.
Next week we are going to continue with the WHAT and HOW of customer focus, looking forward to it!
In the meanwhile, come and comment: what do you think about the changes in customer expectations? Who is your customer? What is your challenge?