Thinking Like Your Customers

28 Mar 2012|Leigh Marinner

Leight MarrinerAdded Value’s March edition of the Innovation Inspiration, our monthly email newsletter, showcased a good article by Accenture on How to make your company think like a customer. There were two recommendations I especially liked and that I have seen work with different clients.

  • Collect criticism. I understand why this is easy to pay lip service to, but hard to do.   It’s hard to showcase criticism in front of your peers. But once an executive starts doing this, it becomes surprisingly easy.  Once you know you’re not going to be shot down for bringing up a problem on your watch, teams can pull together to think about how to improve.
  • Conduct a customer experience audit.  This can be a humbling experience to see what the customer really goes through in their journey to learn about and purchase your product.  Hard data speaks in a much louder voice than opinions.  One client found that the store salespeople were actually talking potential customers out of the purchase.  This data caused the organization to focus on the problem and come up with a solution.

One recommendation I’d add is:

  • Understand the different needs of different customer segments.  There is no universal customer.  Understanding the customer experience can point up markedly different desired experiences. The airline traveler with an iPad who wants to read a book may be quite different from the traveler who grabs a paperback in the terminal.

And this is where the art of designing good research comes in.  When designing innovative products, the customer can’t tell you what he wants when it doesn’t exist yet.  Henry Ford’s famous dictum applies: “If I’d asked the customer what he wanted he would have said a faster horse.”

Written by Leigh Marriner.  Leigh leads Added Value Cheskin’s business consulting practice. 

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