When I ask this question, I invariably get a very confident 'yes'. The next questions I will then ask is, "How do you know who your customer is?"
This is when I hear thing likes, "well I just know" or "I talk to customers everyday so I should know". The truth is though that many businesses really don't know who their customer is or what their customer needs because they've never taken the time to really, truly find out.
Who are you?
Customers are quite often not seen as a human being outside of their interaction with a business. Customers are seen as a transaction or a temporary interaction that is replaced by the next transaction or interaction.
As a business owner, you need to understand who your customer is and you need to paint a picture of your ideal customer's needs, desires, drivers, socio-economic status, pain points and expectations. By doing this, you can develop a customer experience model that meets (and preferably exceeds) the needs of your ideal customer.
The Same Who
If you were to ask every employee in your business who your customer is, there’s a really good chance that you'll get various views and profiles. This mismatch in the picture of your customer leads to a wide range of issues which inevitably ends in a failure to meet your customer's needs and consequently, negatively impacts on your business's revenue projections.
A business who has a shared view of the customer has the advantage of a whole of business alignment. By embedding this into a customer experience model, the customer's experience is the same no matter where they touch that business.
Who Do You Need?
It is the arrogant business that thinks the customer needs them, their product or service. The truth is that they usually don't.. a customer has the advantage of multiple channels now and can choose to go local, regional, national or even international in some cases to source what they need.
Your customer doesn't need you.. it is you who needs your customer. And because it is you who needs your customer, you need to find out all that you can about them in order to get them, and importantly keep them.
So Who are You...?
To build a clear picture of your customer , you find out some specifics about them. Some of this can be done via research. However, the best thing you can do is ask them! The value you deliver (perceived and actual) from taking the time to go to your customers and listen to what they have to say is huge!
- Their demographic: age, gender, income, profession, education, family size, marital status, home ownership
- Their drivers: wealth, health, status, lifestyle, family stage, hobbies, sports, trend-type, life stage, forms of entertainment
- Purchasing drivers: price, reason, timetable, budget, use, support, education
- Expectations & needs: what do they expect when interacting with your business, service response time, how do they prefer to interact (online, email, phone, over the counter, individual meeting, traditional mail), payment preferences, delivery time, what do they need (and want) in a product or service
Once you have this information, a great way to build this into a picture and communicate it through your business is to write a story about your customer, “A day in the life of…” if you will. By doing this, the data that you’ve just collected actually turns into a person.
Here's one example that has been written about the customer of an online clothing store...
Hello, I'm the customer of GiveItToMeNow.com and here's some interesting things about me and my life!
I'm a female aged 30-35 years. I'm a bank teller, have a university bachelors degree in arts and earn $70,000 per year. I am married with 3 kids aged 3, 6 and ,9 and am paying off our home in Myville with my husband who earns $80,000 per year.
We are an active family, my husband plays soccer and I play netball on the weekend. Our kids play soccer as well.
I buy new clothes almost every week – I usually spend between $50-$100 for an item of clothing for myself , $50-80 for my husband and $30 or so for my kids. I like our clothes to be of reasonable quality.
We love doing things by internet have things delivered. The thing we hate most is being stuck on a phone queue. I'd much prefer to pay by credit card online and have it delivered within 2 days, knowing that if I don't like it, or if it doesn't fit properly, I can return my purchase for a full refund within 30 days.
Now you will then have a clear view of who your customer is, what they want and need, and what you need to do and deliver to attract them and retain them. Build this into your Customer Experience Strategy and communicate this across the whole business.
Unless you know who your customer is, there is a risk that you are missing the mark in so far as what they need and what they are expecting.
Do you know who your customer is?