Why Solving Customer Problems is more important than Business Vision
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Understanding Your Customers
Companies need to acknowledge the importance of their customers to be successful. Customers are the kingmakers in business. Meeting customer needs is a challenge that every business needs to succeed in.
To do this effectively is challenging and requires companies to understand what customers want. However, all too often, companies get caught up in their own vision and lose sight of what really matters. There are some very real dangers for companies who focus too much on their own ideal company vision.
In this post, we discuss how companies can gain an understanding of customer pain points, interpreting data and why following a business vision too strictly may be a bad thing. Along the way, we discuss how we have taken a customer-centric approach when developing the Wired Plus system.
– Addressing your customers’ needs is your biggest challenge
– Understanding your customer’s emotions is important to creating a successful product
– Creating a USP is important for every business in today’s marketplace
– Insights gained from customer behaviour data are key to marketing success
Defining Pain Points
The first problem for companies looking to become more customer-centric is to understand their customer’s problems. Pain points are top-level issues that customers are aware of and are negatively affected by.
For example, a sales department may not be able to develop enough revenue or a marketing team may not produce enough conversion-ready leads. These ‘pain points’ are the basis on which companies can develop solutions.
The pain points that companies identify may differ dependent on whether their customer already has a competitor’s product or not. Targeting a customer who hasn’t previously bought into a solution is much easier as companies don’t need to address the costs and efforts of transferring from one solution to another.
Also, when targeting a customer with a competitor’s solution, companies need to demonstrate how their product outperforms the competition. The advantages of the new solution must be significant enough to make the customer want to transfer between systems.
When developing Wired Plus, we identified that many companies struggled to align their marketing and sales functions. The system we have developed tackled this problem head on, giving marketers a place to store, record and review all of their customer data.
This results in a better understanding of customers across business departments leading to increased return on investment. Each feature in the Wired Plus system has been developed to help marketers improve the way they work.
Once common pain points have been identified and documented, companies should consider how their products can address and resolve these issues. Building products and solutions around customer needs increases the product’s relevance.
– Identify the key pain points associated to your company: This will help you create a solution that directly addresses your customer’s problems.
Addressing Customer Pain Points
Companies can create buyer personas to develop an understanding of how their customers think and act. Getting into the mindset of an individual customer isn’t always easy but it is effective. The personas that companies create should be as detailed as possible, outlining the problems, worries and considerations customers have.
When taking this step, it’s really important to think about what keeps your customers awake at night. These concerns should be prioritised when creating the solution.
McKinsey reported on how one American airport used their passenger feedback to develop a more enjoyable passenger experience. Airports are busy, fast paced and changeable environments and there are many pain points that need to be addressed.
Although the airport in the study was able to identify key passenger pain points, they did not realise the value which passengers placed on each. Making changes according to what the airport believed would work wanted ran the risk of missing the point.
Taking the time to ask passengers how they felt led to a clear understanding and resulted in a better experience. This approach proved so popular that it has since been replicated in some UK airports.
On the other hand, many failed businesses skip this step, instead addressing the problems they think their customers care about. When using this approach, marketers only have half of the story. Marketers may rephrase their marketing message to sound like they are addressing the customer but if the customer doesn’t care, this is pointless.
This approach fails to acknowledge the way that customers actually feel, instead relying on the instincts and knowledge of the marketer alone.
Pain Points for Marketers
One of the main customer pain points that we identified when developing Wired Plus was that marketers and sales struggled to agree when leads were ready for conversion. To address this common pain point, we included an intuitive lead scoring system in the Wired Plus CRM.
Each action or interaction that a company has with a lead is assigned a score. These scores are added to calculate the total lead score which is then fed into the CRM. This gives both marketing and sales teams a clear understanding of whether the lead needs to placed into a nurture series or if they are ready for the sales team to convert.
– Understand Customer Needs: When you have created your product, check that each element addresses an issue that your customer has reported or identified.
Solving Customer Problems Using Data
To really understand what problems customers face, companies need to collect data. Data gives a hard and reliable reference point for the way that customers think and act. There are many different types and sources of data that can be used for this purpose, each telling a different story about the individual.
Collecting data first hand is the most reliable way to make sure your company’s input is both accurate and relevant. This type of data is called primary data, gathered directly by the company who can verify that the data is up-to-date, accurate and relevant to their needs.
Secondary collection methods rely on data that has already been collected by an external body. Although cheaper, secondary data may not be as accurate, up-to-date or relevant for purpose.
Behavioural data is primary data resulting from customer actions. This type of data allows you to understand how your customers interact with your system. Building up a picture from all of your customer behavioural data can give you a rich data-set.
Our blog post on behavioural marketing techniques considered the way that email marketers use behavioural data to improve return on investment and email open rates. Sending emails based on how your customers interact with your business, rather than according to a set schedule, increases campaign relevancy.
This type of marketing puts the customer at the centre of the marketing approach. As a result, each marketing message can be tailored to each customer on a one-to-one level.
– Know your metrics: Decide which metrics are important to your business and focus on these when marketing to your contacts. Review your campaign performance on a regular basis.
How Disruptive Marketers Address Customer Pain Points
Disruptive marketing can address common customer pain points. The main aim of market disruptors is to challenge the status quo and create a new environment for their product.
Marketers taking disruptive approaches focus on answering the main questions and problems that are currently unanswered. By doing this, companies are able to create a niche for their own product to succeed.
Each time a product is developed with a disruptive intent the product needs to meet the needs of an unsatisfied existing market or to cater for a new emerging market.
To be successful with this type of approach, marketers need to speak to their audience on their level. Using the right kind of language to convey the marketing message is almost as important as the message itself.
Problems and solutions can’t be addressed with the same language. A client facing regular staff sickness issues doesn’t need ’employee management software’ but would benefit from a solution which helps ‘improve sickness monitoring’. The solution to the problem needs to be pitched in a way that the customer understands easily.
The key to solving customer problems is understanding how a customer may feel or speak about their own business and targeting marketing messages accordingly.
Disrupting the market not only relies on creating the right product. Marketers need to convey the benefit of doing something differently. As conventional solutions to a problem are likely to be in existence, the new disruptive solution needs to stand out as doing something different.
– Check Your Copy: Make sure you are speaking to customers on their terms, in the tone they use and using language choices they make.
– Know The Challenges: Map out the current customer journey and hone in on the problems that your customers or clients really struggle with. This will help you refine your product to create something that customers will really value.
Why Focusing On The Business Vision is a Bad Idea
Companies who ignore their customers and plough on according to their own ideas run the risk of failing. Ignoring customer data means that companies rely on luck alone to succeed. Worse still, companies who act without considering their customers may make their customer’s situation worse.
Companies who operate in this way often act according to what they would like for themselves rather than thinking more widely about their customer base.
Focusing too intently on a strict business vision means that companies are likely to miss out on new emerging opportunities. Whilst it may be time and resource consuming to change approach, this is key if a business is to remain relevant and popular. Failing to adapt to a changing business environment will lead to companies slipping behind their competitors.
Even though a product may meet the needs of a customer when it is first developed, it may need to be updated or evolve to remain competitive in the marketplace. Customers have more choice than ever before and the internet makes it easy to find alternatives. If your business fails to deliver what the customer wants, they will simply move elsewhere. This results in loss of income and reputation for your company.
– Review Your Vision: Regularly look at your vision to make sure that you stay relevant in your chosen industry. Be prepared to change direction or adapt your offering to cater for changing customer needs.
But Having a Vision is Still Important
Although we believe that the customer is more important than the goals of the business, having a vision is still important. The company vision should be closely tied to the problems their customers face. Knowing what direction your company is moving in gives you a purpose and a sense of identity.
An article by AchieveIt explored the need for employees to know their company’s mission statements. According to the article, as many as 70% of company employees surveyed did not know their own company’s mission statement.
However, creating the mission statement and leaving it to collect dust on the shelf is just as bad. Mission statements and the company vision should be continually updated to reflect changes in the market and customer feedback. Companies may need to react to customer feedback to stay relevant and up-to-date.
Having a vision gives a company a blueprint for success. The act of creating and adhering to a vision and mission statement gives a company an identity. This can be used to stand out in the marketplace. Taking a unique approach in a particular industry makes companies stand out, increasing authenticity.
We have recently evolved the Wired Plus system to become a full marketing CRM. Although we originally decided to develop an email marketing system, the added functionality of a CRM solution inspired us to create something bigger and more ambitious.
Our vision to create a comprehensive in-house marketing system combines with our desire to give customers the tools they need to be successful.
– Engage Your Team: Make sure your team know what you are hoping to achieve and are aware of the approach they need to take.
Creating a USP
Every company needs a USP or unique-selling-point to market their product or service successfully. This is the reason why a customer or client may want to use your services over and above those of your competitors. The USP should be the main benefit the customer can expect.
A generic benefit such as ‘we offer better service’ is not likely to be enough to convince customers as they can quickly access company reviews online. Every company aspires to offer a ‘better’ product or service but what does that really mean? To create an effective USP, companies need to show a specific and tangible benefit of using their product.
At Wired Plus, we considered how marketers used existing software options when we decided upon our USP. When we created our CRM we were determined to make it as easy as possible for customers to connect each aspect of their marketing.
There is often a disconnect between customer data and the way this is handled by companies. As a result, we decided to make our account management and training services provide customers with a level of support that is unrivaled across the CRM marketplace.
– Give Value: Create a USP that gives value to the customer. The USP should elevate your product above the competition influencing the buyer’s decision.
The Demise of Kodak
Kodak failed to move quickly enough to respond to the changing photography marketplace, leading to its eventual bankruptcy in 2012. Six years later, it is now emerging as a company with a different focus, on digital photography products. However, the company struggled to adapt for some time.
For many years, Kodak had been the market leading photography firm with a leading market share across both the US and the rest of the world. The company was a market leader in film-based photography until shortly before 2012.
However, the rise of digital, film-less cameras challenged the business to change the way it operated. As this article from Forbes explains, Kodak did not respond quickly or fluidly enough to the new digital photography movement, resulting in a shrinking market share and profit margins.
Now, the film photography market comprises a niche part of the larger photography market. Whilst Kodak caters for these customers, it now also diverges to deal with digital photography products. The company is now on the rise again. However, with a more flexible approach it may have avoided the 2012 bancruptcy entirely.
– Kodak’s failure to adapt to a changing marketplace led to it’s bankruptcy in 2012. To avoid a similar fate, ensure that you stay abreast of industry changes and developments and adapt accordingly.
The Rise of ALDI
On the other hand, ALDI took advantage of a gap in the supermarket industry. The brand prides itself on stocking cheap, fresh products at a low price. By exploiting this gap in the market, ALDI was able to win the Which? best supermarket title four times in a row until 2015.
The supermarket continues to respond to customer demand by producing competitively priced goods and improving customer service with faster customer response times.
– Aldi has stayed at the forefront of the supermarket industry by adapting according to market needs.
How Solving Customer Problems is Important at Wired Plus
Wired Plus is focused on providing solutions for our customers. We have created our business around some of the most common and prohibitive pain points marketers face. By creating the Wired Plus mission statement, we were able to put our customer’s problems into words, focusing our team on the issues that mattered.
We identified that marketers weren’t using the data that they collected to make informed decisions. This led us to thinking about how we could create a system that met their needs and improved the insights they received from campaigns.
Our system gives users a number of key benefits: Increasing Marketing ROI, aligning sales and marketing business functions and giving marketers a one-stop-shop for their marketing actions.
Each time a company creates a new product, they need to consider how the product or service addressed customer pain points. By directly addressing customers needs in the product design and creation stage, companies can predict how customers will react. However, over time, these needs and requirements are likely to change.
To continually meet and exceed customer expectations, companies now need to stay one step ahead of their customers.
Whilst having goals and ambitions is important to create a successful business, the ability to adapt to and address customer pain points is essential. Companies which adapt to a changing marketplace are more successful in the long term than those which stick strictly to their original message.
Next time you create a marketing campaign, remember to:
– Directly address the customer and their main problems
– Show how your company has a unique offering
– Stay up to date with any changes in your marketplace. Adapt your message accordingly.