cft

What Does the Customer Want Now?

Just because the phone isn’t ringing doesn’t mean your customers aren’t buying


user

Helen Blake

3 years ago | 4 min read

What does the customer want now?

Let’s face it, the idea of ‘new normal’ is behind us. We are in uncharted territory, that brave new world where we know our clients and customers exist. But the big question is – what do our clients/customers want now? What will they value going forward?

Until February, many organisations were pretty clear and relatively comfortable about customer value. Lots of tracking algorithms, plenty of Net Promoter Scores. All feeling pretty good.

Now? I’ve yet to find anyone who’s certain.

At Futurecurve, we have been avidly watching, tracking, and analysing customer views and behavioural modes using our psychology-based methods of uncovering true customer value. What has become very clear is that customers have changed, and companies know that they are going to have to change to keep aligned…but are unclear what value levers to pull.

The power balance between company and customer is always a delicate one. For most of the 20th century, the power firmly lay with the company – dictating what products would be made, and how they would be distributed, sold and priced. The turn of the 21st century saw the scales tip towards the customer wielding the power.

Technology enabled the customer to compare, choose, decide and shop around for commodity items and services, or to engage with the best providers where risk was high, and value needed to be assured. Today, that power is in a very delicate balance that could tip either way. The majority of people are treading warily and engaging in an out-of-awareness psychological ‘dance’. Who is going to make the first move?

Just because the phone isn’t ringing doesn’t mean your customers aren’t buying

Over the last 4 months we have been running a Go-to-Market benchmark survey. What we find is that businesses are generally comfortable with their strategy and positioning but confidence in their customer understanding is low.

We know everything has changed, we as customers in the B2C world have changed – we have shifted to online purchasing and as we become more comfortable with that process, we carry the behaviour forward into our B2B worlds.

We all do it. We are savvy shoppers, we check customer reviews, look at star ratings, compare prices and product descriptions, check out the company website, track social media and watch their videos.

We try to assess what the company and their product is like: how big are they, do they look well established, is their reputation important to them and is this reflected in their returns policy, where are they based, is the delivery date likely to be met, watching a video of the product in use, is it a good quality for the price, is it as easy to use, and so on. We may know exactly what we want when buying a commodity product, but we dip in and out of many touchpoints with each provider.

In this way we de-risk our buying decision until we are confident and comfortable that we have the right product or service for our needs.

Source: www.Interana.com

To engage with this change in customer behaviour post COVID-19, B2B companies need to understand how this shift will impact their customer journeys. We all may need to provide more touch points and be more transparent, we may have to repackage our offerings, and a website and the offer of a sales call is no longer enough.

B2B customers also want to get a feel for the business beyond the website, they may want advice but before they try to talk to someone they are likely to investigate – is this the sort of business I want to do business with – what are their values, can I relate to them, do they understand my industry / sector, my business challenges? But if your business has no additional touch points beyond a few web pages, ‘contact us now’ boxes or email contact option only, the likelihood is they will go elsewhere. You no longer match the way your customers want to buy.

Our survey highlights that many businesses recognise their old approach to understanding the customer, the markets their customers operate in, and assessing customer experience may now be too simplistic. Customer journeys are not only more complex they are also largely hidden; previous marketing and sales measures only give part of the story.

Like me, I’m sure you have been inundated by sales contacts recently that include emails enticing us to buy this training course, or sign up for that webinar, consider new software and marketing platforms, masses of LinkedIn requests, or even receiving an old-fashioned sales call.

The overall sense is a panic sales push, spraying potential customers with all the old messages down a variety of channels. The (perfectly understandable) anxiety is palpable.

The human in the system

Often the key to understanding our customers is identifying what they are not saying. We sense intuitively when someone is holding back and so, to understand why, we ask a different question. It is this deep exploration and phenomenological experience during customer interviews that enables us to have truly meaningful conversations and learn so much more than merely rational/cognitive or behavioural observation techniques allow.

Also, handing over your vital customer analysis to AI-driven metrics or simple quantitative surveys only, carries significant risk because we lose sight of what our customers want because we don’t experience it through their words, context and emotions.

Sentiment analysis will get you so far, enabling the analysis of millions of social media chats, but we also need to connect with our customers at the emotional level. I don’t just mean being sympathetic – real empathy means being open minded, taking a deep dive beyond the superficial and for international companies that means understanding the cultural differences around doing business and not just applying Western norms to customers across Asia, the Middle East, or Africa.

Our challenge to you

Ask yourself, do I really know what my customers value now? If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, then have to courage to go there and find out what your customers are thinking, feeling and experiencing. Don’t just rely on word clouds and satisfaction scores, use the power of psychology and business understanding to help you reshape your business to deliver true customer value.

If not now, when?

Upvote


user
Created by

Helen Blake

Helen is Chief Executive of Futurecurve, the leading business and psychology consultancy focused on creating and delivering client value and strategic value propositions. She works for organisations around the world, including FTSE 250 companies, Governmental organisations, Professional Services firms and SME organisations, helping them build client value that drives growth and a solid business. Prior to leading Futurecurve, Helen spent over 25 years in senior positions for Accenture, KPMG and Capgemini.


people
Post

Upvote

Downvote

Comment

Bookmark

Share


Related Articles