About Using Customer Knowledge to Increase Profitability
Do you know what your customers think about your company and the products and services that you offer?
How have you arrived at this understanding – is it based on your experience of what customers tell you?
Has your opinion been shaped by what other people within your company have told you?
How do you make decisions about your business that might affect your customers, do you try to think of what you would want if you were in their position?
This type of behaviour is called “shoe walking”.
A “shoe walking” approach to understanding customer opinions is common among business people and I frequently come across it in my role as a business consultant. These types of managers will “walk a mile in the shoes of their customers”, an exercise in imagination in order to understand how their customer feel. This is fine providing your feet are exactly the same size as those of your customers!
I have met managers that are quite closely in touch with customer opinion and quite accurate in their ability to predict the opinions of customers. However, we all filter the vast array of information that we receive from customers through our particular view of the world.
Once a manager is convinced that there is a case for a particular course of action they may start to hear all the comments that support that view and ignore those that don’t.
This type of thinking can lead to negative consequences such as decisions based on the needs of a few customers rather than the opinions of a representative sample or costly product or process changes that fail to deliver results.
The simple alternative is to canvass opinion from your customers through research and equally important, the customers that you have failed to win in a sales situation. Think of the last sale that you failed to win, what was the reason?
Did the customer tell you that or did you make assumptions? Even when a customer gives you a clearly stated reason e.g. too expensive, the thinking behind their decision can be much more complex.
It can sometimes help to have an outside party speak to customers as there may also be comments that they will make to a third party that they won’t make to you.
This type of understanding can give you a balanced view of exactly what your customers think.
You may be able to use the opinion of your customers to improve your service and offering to them to increase the time that you retain them as clients or to tempt them to purchase further products and services.
Equally, you can investigate the reasons why you lose new business opportunities so that you can take action to improve
your conversion ratios of leads to customers.
You can measure changes in the feedback over time in order to be able to track the impact
of the improvements that you make.
All these actions can have a dramatic effect on your bottom-line profitability.