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Your customers are dying to tell you something

14th Sep 2016
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When defining business values, companies tend to choose those values they care about. The reason behind this? Companies are proud of the things they're doing.

There's nothing wrong with being proud of the things you're doing. In fact, it's quite natural. As a company, you're working hard to achieve results. Sometimes a company is built on one great idea. Everyone has the right to be proud about that, wouldn't you agree?

But, with all the joy that comes with seeing your idea is working, there's also a dark side.

When working on the products within your business, you'll know those products inside-out. This may cause you to be misled into thinking that your products are the essence. While actually, they're only the means to an end. Your customers are facing a certain problem, for which they – obviously – want a solution. They're hoping your product will solve that. They don't really care about your product as such. They want to get rid of their problem.

The curse of knowledge

Imagine going to a consumer fair about building and renovating your house. Imagine you've just bought some land and you're planning on building a house. You're attending the fair to get inspired and maybe find a contractor who can build your house.

During the fair you get to know a producer of construction materials. The man you're talking to is very enthusiastic about a new brick they've just launched. He's all jabbering about how that brick is fabricated. It's not just a regular brick, it's fabricated in a very innovative way. Not just with clay, but with lots of complicated chemical solutions.

You don't understand a thing of what he's saying. But as he goes on, you realize that the 'special' brick should guarantee an excellent thermal and sound insulation.

Now that's the pitfall I was referring to earlier. The brick manufacturer has been developing these bricks for a long time. Maybe he's a 3d generation brick manufacturer. Perhaps he's been investing greatly to improve those bricks. He has devoted time and energy to make those bricks the best bricks in the world. For him, it's all about the bricks and how they are manufactured.

You, the customer, on the other hand, just want your house to be gorgeous, stable and insulated. Of course you want your house to be the best it can be, but the last thing you care about is the chemical composition of the bricks and the manufacturing process that produces them.

For him, it's logical how the brick is manufactured. The customer, on the other hand, just wants his house to be stable and insulated. Of course he wants his house to be thermal and sound insulated, who doesn't want that? He doesn't care about the manufacturing process.

Focus on what the customer wants to know

On September 7th Apple announced it's new products during the Apple Special Event. iOS 10, Apple Watch 2 and – of course – the new iPhone 7 are only few of the new products that were introduced.

Apple zooms in to the new technologies by showing what it means for the user. They start by telling what they changed and their focus is on how that change the usage of that device.

Take this for an example: Apple closed up every entry-point of the Apple Watch series 2. The speaker system is totally redesigned in order to eject water. This means that the watch isn't just splash proof, but swim proof.

Jeff Williams, the Chief Operating Officer at Apple, explains the technologies briefly, but focus is on the usability for the users. He doesn't explain how they installed a water ejecting speaker. Instead he says 'Hey, did you know? The new Apple Watch isn't just splash proof, its swim proof. So go and have a swim with it. Enjoy." He doesn't explain how the brightest display ever works or how it's made. He says "It's the brightest display ever and it makes all the difference when you're outside in the bright sunlight. It really does."

And that's exactly what the users want to know. Apple just focuses on the things that make their products better, giving users a reason to buy.

It's the small things that make the difference

Important thing to know is that your customers don't only care about the technological stuff or about your excellent customer service. They value the things that make a sale human.

Your customers love the attention they get when they enter your store. The want to feel welcome and listened to at all times. And giving them the attention is all about the small things: a note at the entrance showing the accepted payment methods, a friendly greeting when entering the store, the shop-assistant asking 'Can I help you with anything' or a rest-room for customers.

Those small things could turn a satisfied customer into a delighted customer.

It starts with a single 'hello'

So here's a friendly reminder for all of you who are aiming to get your customer delighted, and therefore, more loyal and more prone to great word-of-mouth. Dare to be vulnerable. Dare to expose yourself to the unfiltered opinion of the ones who are paying your bills. It's time to ask your customers what they value in what you offer.

But remember, don't fall into the trap of asking them what they think about the things you value. You want to know what they value, not what they think about what you think is important. We've all seen tons of customer surveys asking 20-50 questions about how the service made you feel. The problem with those surveys is that they ask about the things the company cares about. Which is completely different from the things the customer cares about. And well, there's also this: nobody wants to complete a 20+ question survey anymore. Those days are gone.

Have faith, your customers will tell you exactly what you need to know. If only you let them. It all starts with a single 'Hello'.

This is where the Net Promoter Score comes in. NPS is a great way to ask for customer feedback. The system doesn't suggest and it doesn't steer the respondent in any direction. Just the way you want it.

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