Brands of all sizes are grappling with the implications of listening to their customers. Listening to customers (whether B2B or B2C) is the underpinning of the upside that Omnichannel, Customer Acquisition and Demand Generation promise. In all three concepts, customer feedback holds the key. Customer feedback holds the key to unlock a profitable customer acquisition strategy. It carries the insight about what tactics will generate more demand. It delivers the information about how to improve the customer experience.
By listening to customers, brands can understand what customers:
- Want and don’t want
- Will and will not pay for
The benefit of listening to customers is well accepted by the market. According to a study of over 500 business executives, 94% believe that listening to customer feedback is increasingly critical to the bottom line.
But what happens when listening to customers exposes things brands don’t want to hear? What happens when brands learn their customers want something vastly outside the scope of the business? Should a business switch its business model to pursue what the customer wants or should a business stay focused on its competencies and objectives?
I believe that every business idea and subsequently every brand has a potential value it can achieve, but that brand can tap into infinitely more potential value in the learnings it generates by listening to customers.
Founders and employees alike have the opportunity (and for early stage companies the responsibility) to listen to feedback from customers, and the duty to parse that feedback to make the right decisions, sometimes referred to as the Customer Discovery Process. The opportunity and responsibility creates a few common things founders should do.
While each company’s customer feedback will provide a specific and varying suggestion, there are three common trends I’ve observed that any brand leader can learn from:
What You Should Do When Customer Feedback Forces You Outside Your Comfort Zone
Step 1: Find a way to get things done faster
Customers are increasingly dissatisfied with slow progress. Innovation and support must keep up with the instant gratification nature of mobile. Your company may not directly compete with programs like Amazon’s Prime Now, but you are definitely measured against the comparable value of instant gratification.
* If you’re into the singularity (see below), you’ll appreciate this step
Step 2: Find a way to make things easier for customers
Customers are increasingly impatient with unnecessary steps. If you have injected barriers to entry such as clunky shopping cart experiences on your website, severely limiting terms and conditions for promotion code adoption, or high price points to trial your product, you are killing your customer’s demand for your product. Your company may not directly compete with Amazon as an eCommerce engine, but you are definitely measured against the relative ease and security of purchase that Amazon offers (including the Prime card).
Step 3: Find a way to expand beyond your scope
Customers are divinely discontent. Customers will demand that you travel to space and back – not literally but figuratively through the use of satellites that power mobile communications. If you are not willing to take risks by pursuing opportunities outside the realm of what you do well today, you will concede the potential value of your customer’s feedback to another company. Your company may not provide products, services or information for all the things your customers want, but you are in control of your destiny and therefore can pivot at any time.
In Summary, Here Are Your Action Items:
1. Move faster: Take action to increase speed in all aspects of your organization. Demand that your employees move faster. NOW!
2. Make things easier for customers: Try being a very discerning customer of your company’s product by buying your product anywhere it is sold and write down everything that you could do better.
* Bonus points for try being a customer of your competitor’s products or services too.
3. Take moonshots: Write down a list of all the moonshots you could take in your business, and empower at least one employee in your organization with the opportunity to pursue one of them.