Customers do not buy products or services, they buy benefits or solutions. Being customer-oriented requires an understanding of your own business as it relates to the wants and needs of your customers. Rather than focusing on what you make or the service you provide, try to envision the customer’s point of view. Customers might be buying something you didn’t even know you were selling.
Continued product development efforts will help your company remain competitive, and part of a successful product development strategy is the acquisition of information through primary research efforts. Rather than trying to guess why your customers make the purchasing decisions they do, why not ask them?
Here are a few key points to consider when building a relevant and effective product development survey:
1. Determine the bottom-line reason customers would purchase your product or service.
Include questions regarding product use and/or allow opportunity for open-ended customer feedback to identify new reasons customers are making purchases. A common example of the benefits herein would be if your company produces drill bits. Customers may purchase the drill bit, but what they really want is a hole; the drill is a means to an end. Furthermore, the hole may be just one step in a process of attaching two units together or hanging an item on a wall. If you are able to look further than the purchase of a drill bit, you may discover opportunities for product improvement or avoid losing market share to alternative solutions to your customer’s problems.
2. Do not assume you know your customers; they are constantly changing and evolving.
Once communication has been initiated and a customer has your survey in their position, it is a prime opportunity to find out who they are, how they differ from one another, and what exactly it is they are buying. It is a good practice to identify or profile your core business by defining your key customers. According to the Pareto (80/20) effect, 80% of profit generally comes from 20% of customers. Determining who these 20% of your customers are and how they differ from the rest can be of great value in building brand loyalty and growing your market share.
3. Your customers buy from you rather than a competitor; find out why.
Understanding your strengths will allow you to focus on your competitive advantage. However what YOU see as your company’s strength and what your CUSTOMERS see as your company’s strength may be vastly different. The fact is there is a reason customers are choosing your company. Be it reliability, trust, range, service, price, or availability, knowing why you are being chosen over the competition will help you play to your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.
4. Ensure that your customers are satisfied with availability and the purchase process.
Some customers may prefer to make purchases online while others may prefer a brick-and-mortar storefront. You may be missing out on additional sales and revenue if your customers are not satisfied with the availability and acquisition of what you are offering. As previously stated, your customers are choosing your business because you are doing something right. Let them tell you how they prefer to make a purchase and provide an effortless process for them to be loyal customers.