As a consultant understanding clients’ needs and wants is at the center of my practice. To connect with clients, I need to know what they want, their aspirations, and deliver what they need, providing the best solution for their problems.
I am a service provider to B2B and a Customer Experience (CX) practitioner. My motto is the “360 view” of my customers — meaning — that I need to understand my clients and, subsequently, my clients’ customers.
My clients want to stay relevant and innovative and often look at other successful companies, hot industry trends, or new shiny products for inspiration. Perhaps, the motivation is staring at them all the time. A vital component of growth is customers.
Let’s define the difference between the client’s wants and needs:
Wants are all the expectations, emotions, and desires clients would like to achieve.
Needs are all the actual outcomes, behaviors, and tangibles clients would like to have.
“Listening to customers is essential and understanding their aspirations and behaviors.” Alicia Freites
Although the importance of being a customer-centric company is not a new concept, the right steps to achieve a customer service focus are still hazy. Most of the companies will try to look for solutions without taking into account their customers’ wants or needs.
As a CX practitioner, I will start by applying frameworks and tools and simplify the customer feedback loop, to incorporate the knowledge into your organization processes. As Steve Jobs notably stated, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology, you cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it.”
CX has evolved recently, with technology, organizations that are leaders in the market understand that they need to create products and services that are customer-centric.
With this philosophy in mind, Oliver Kipp, Chief Customer Officer, Maritz stated, “Failing to engage customers on more than just a rational level is more than a lost opportunity for a brand. It’s a failure to recognize that even the most basic choices people make are informed — both consciously and unconsciously — by their emotions.”
Those organizations that understand the emotional relationship between their brand, technology, and CX strategy are those that developed a competitive advantage. The leaders in the market are those companies that listen to customers and implement changes to meet customers’ expectations and mainly adapt their people, process, and technology to meet customers’ demands.
In Singapore, accordingly, to CX University, most of the population are digitally engaged, and companies need to adapt:
98% of the population owns smartphones,
83% start a search online when looking at new products and services
66% bank or purchase online at least once a week
49% search online while in the store.
54% agree that companies risk losing customers if they don’t offer a great digital experience
Canada is not far behind these trends.
How can successful companies understand their customers’ needs and wants and, most importantly, get value from it using technology?
Well, as I mentioned before, there are many frameworks and tools in the market that will help organizations become CX and compete, and all start understanding your customers.
Leading companies spend a lot of money and resources to understand customers, but I have three simple steps process for you to get you started in the right direction.
First, do your research. Do as your customers do. Use google to get industry reports on your business industry, select a benchmark that you think you could achieve within the next six months. For example: Do your customers expect real-time interactions? Are your competitors responding in real-time? Is that a benchmark that you could achieve in the next six months?
The second step is to analyze. Go back and compare how you are doing, is there a gap or you are outperforming the competition? Are you providing those real-time interactions to your customers, or are you failing? Ask your customers how you are doing. Prioritize possible solutions to address any gap between your service delivery and your customer’s expectations. Do you have the budget to deliver real-time communications, maybe you are providing it already, find out if you are giving what your customers expect? Once you collect the data, use a simple prioritization matrix to analyze your options, and determine where to start.
Finally, design the solution. From the prioritization list, choose one option that you could do today — “Quick Win” — that will ease the pain for your customers. And choose a second option, “Major Project,” that will take you at least six months.
In conclusion, you don’t need to spend a lot of resources and look beyond to find shiny or expensive solutions. Most of the time, the answers are staring at you. When you align your products and services with your customers at heart, you are on the right path to becoming a CX leader.