Is your understanding of your customers’ expectations up to date?
Organisations exist to serve customers. Stay Relevant is no different. We embarked on this exciting journey with the intention of helping organisations and professionals navigate successfully through uncertain times.
If I may continue with the sailing analogy, we are facing harsh weather conditions. Many use the name VUCA to describe this unpredictable and highly volatile wind that changes directions and speed and challenges the most experienced skippers. Many boats are finding it hard to keep the ship straight and maintain speed and direction. For us, being relevant is about ensuring we understand where customers are going and being ready to help them. We assist companies to adapt their boats to the new conditions, to change fast, to generate and execute new ideas and to be able to navigate these waters on any circumstances.
Relevance is about value creation and flexible delivery. What customers consider valuable and flexible is evolving all the time, even more on this current VUCA weather. This graph shows the fundamental barriers for meeting customer expectations.
If you know what your customer wants but cannot execute well, i.e. have an execution gap, you have a problem that will affect the customer experience. However, if your understanding of what the customer expects is outdated, you have an insight gap and the result is going to be even worse, no matter how great your execution is.
Here is where observation becomes more crucial than ever before. In simple terms, observation is the door to understanding customers. In practice, it is the constant validation and updating of what we believe to be correct about their needs, aspirations, challenges and behaviour.
In the digital world, we automatically track our customers’ activities, analyse what works and what does not and experiment new ways to do things while trying to find the right combination of events in the correct order. In the physical world, we need to do the same. It is worrying how little we know about what customers do when they are in our premises, or what they feel, value, or miss when they use our products or services. Technology can help with some of this tracking. Getting our employees to observe and ask is also essential. On this weather, behaviour changes fast.
Observation complements dialogue. We need to talk to customers, and we need to observe what they do. Often, they generate different results and using only one of them may lead to dangerous assumptions.
Customer feedback on its own does not work because we cannot always trust what people say, not even ourselves. We sometimes say what we want to hear, or what we believe to be true. When someone observes you for a while, they can point out things you did not even notice. If we ask people how many times they check their phones every day, we typically get a much smaller figure than when we track phone activity directly from the phone itself. Relying only on customer feedback will make us lose on powerful realisations on how customers think and act.
The opposite is also true. Relying only on observations may also be problematic. The doughnut example proves people do not always do what they want; they often do what they can, are used to, or is easier for them to do, given the current options.
We know customers will continue to change in 2019; it is up to us to observe what they do and interact with them to understand how these changes affect what they feel about us and to identify what else we can do for them. At Stay Relevant we will continue to observe and talk to many of you this year to ensure we can keep sailing together for years to come.