How a more intensive customer orientation can help your business grow

Strength is a strength is a strength, only when it is internal to you, it is relative and can transform the lives of your customers.

The key strength – How a more intensive customer orientation can help your business grow

This article talks about a typical product, how it is not just a bundle of benefits. It is, but a bundle of benefits as perceived by the customer. Further, it touches upon the strength of a product.

Think of an e-commerce shop or any other business for that matter, how the business should grow? A quick search will tell you it is mainly by expanding the customer base. It can be done either via acquiring new ones or via retaining the existing ones. And how do we achieve that — a simple solution would be to change the product or introduce a new line of product/-s. This is where it gets interesting, there is a simpler way. Neither do we need to change the product nor create a new one, instead change the value proposition of the product.

Value propositions are the first point of contact between a company and its customers

Value Proposition answers the question “why should a customer buy from me?”. It is the value that a business promises to create in the form of a product or a service. These products do have some features. However, features are global, benefits are personal. So we need to communicate the benefits to the customer. It’s time we stop mistaking features for values.

When a customer buys something, it means he values those benefits more than the currency in his pocket. Hence, all we need to do is: talk about benefits to the target customers in a given context. Customers buy a product based on the value they associate with it.

A woman never buys a lipstick! Sounds crazy? But it’s true. Here is why: A woman buys beauty, she perceives that the lipstick enhances her beauty.

But, a customer’s attention is slim

The degree of willingness to establish a relationship with any business varies considerably. It is mostly just transactional. We live in a world of information abundance. It is very difficult to give full attention to one thing at a time. It has drastically come down to eight seconds. Hence it becomes even more important for businesses to play their unique card or value proposition to the target customer wisely. In order to create a real working value proposition, which grabs the attention of the right customers to engage with one’s business, the customers have to be able to derive the promised value for their personal use.

Apple has been doing it successfully. Remember the message for the iPod? It said 1000 songs in your pocket. What we are used to seeing is a description like X GB capacity, Y cm Screen etc… But none of that would have made the message as clear as the 1000 songs in your pocket. It is a one-liner, perfectly creates the impression on any customer (tech-savvy or not).

Strength of a product lies in meeting the inner most desires of customers, their dreams and fantasies.

It is imperative to understand customers. One has to understand what the motivations of customers are. Based on these a product should be communicated to the customer in such a way that customer feels comfortable. One product can meet different needs of different customers differently, as explained by Philip Kotler’s “The Five Product Levels model”. Product is more than just a tangible entity and it has five levels. At each product level, more customer value is added.

  1. The Core Benefit corresponds to the fundamental need of the customer, which the customer wants to satisfy by purchasing the product. Let’s consider that a customer buys a mobile phone. To be able to make a call is the fundamental need in this case.
  2. The Generic Product is a basic version of the product that fulfils the core benefit. Continuing with the mobile phone, to be able to store contacts or take pictures and store them could be seen as generic needs of the product.
  3. The Expected Product also fulfils some additional characteristics that the customer expects from the product. To be able to connect one’s mobile phone to Bluetooth devices or to computer devices for various purposes are expected characteristics of this product
  4. The Augmented Product provides some additional non-physical benefits that add value to the product. It could be a warranty given by the manufacturer on the battery of the phone or simply brand image of the product.
  5. The Potential Product brings joy to the customer. It fulfils the inner wishes of the customer – now and in the future. To be able to connect the mobile device to the cloud which in turn might have a lot of potential benefits in the future.

Hence, exceed their expectations

It is the age of customer obsession. One needs to really listen to the customers and react by continuously testing and personalizing their experience. When customers become our fans, true customer obsession has been achieved. They not only remain loyal, they believe in our beliefs and they act as our advocates.

”The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” — Jeff Bezos

I thought, what’s better to end this article than quoting a real example. I found the following snippet from the “Letter to Amazon Shareholders” in 2016. How beautifully Amazon has adopted “customer obsession” as their culture.

True Customer Obsession

There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invention on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.

Let your product share compassion and start a love affair with its customers!

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