We often find that companies spend an inordinately small amount of time considering their offering from the customer’s point of view. In their defense, it is easy to be fixated by back-end and internal issues. But having this disconnect between company and customer is dangerous.
Battle this by focusing first on the customer, and then designing products and systems around them and their needs.
Customer-centric companies create innovations that resonate because they truly empathize with their customers and how they interact with the product category.
For instance, most cellphone carriers gear their services toward premium, high-use subscribers, providing them with expansive data and cell service, the latest in phone technology, and complicated contracts to match. But overlooked by this approach are casual users who don’t use their phones often, yet still very much want to stay connected—for example, seniors.
Consider Consumer Cellular, one of Oregon’s fastest growing companies, where the average age of a customer is 63. Consumer Cellular does a terrific job of looking at phone technology through a senior’s eyes. It offers simple pricing: a Breakthrough Perspective no-contract plan for around $25 a month, with no peak pricing or out-of-network charges. To ensure accessibility, the company works with phone manufacturers to pare down the pre-loaded apps, simplify instructions, and offer senior-friendly phones with larger buttons and hearing-aid compatibility. To ensure that the seniors receive the customer support they need, the company prioritizes U.S.-based call centers, and staffs them with representatives trained to work with customers who may be less tech-savvy or need more time. Telecom is a commonly maligned industry, but Consumer Cellular shows how a company can be customer-centric and low-cost at the same time.
Map out the entire customer journey for your organization, indicating every step or action that a customer might make to learn about your offerings, purchase them, use them, fix them, and dispose of them. Then do the same for the industry at large. What do you find surprising? Which steps can be challenging?
Examine the day-to-day life of your offering. What pain points do customers experience? What can you do to alleviate those?
Think through the lifetime of your offering. Where are the weakest points, such as in terms of product performance or customer service? What can you do to ease those issues?
How have customers used your offering in unintended ways? What needs are they scratching at, and why are they using your offering to do so?
Great opportunities can be revealed when you follow the journey of your customers’ experience with your business, through their eyes only.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Steve Wunker and Jennifer Law. You can find much more on these concepts in their new book Costovation.
The Blake Project Can Help: The Customer Experience Workshop
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