The customer is always right - and sometimes...

... they know you better than you think

There are moments in every business when a change of direction is essential. What that direction is, and how to find it isn’t always obvious though. I encountered just such a dilemma working with one of my B2B clients. We’d thought we’d got their messages all sorted. In fact, we’d been hammering them home for months.

One day, my client and myself looked up from our screens, had a check what was happening beyond our own to-do list and found out that the market had completely changed. It was a quick as that.

The market was moving so fast it was difficult to keep up. Strong strategic decisions needed to be made about the direction of the company. We knew that the brand’s look and feel needed to be updated.

But to what?

Everything out there was about innovation. The market was buzzing with buzzwords. Should our client do the same? Was that really them? Then came the killer question

“What do our client’s customers really value about what we do?”

It was possible that our client already knew the answers to those questions, because they spoke to their customers all the time. But did they really know? Had they really asked them the truly important questions? The answer was that they hadn’t. They hadn’t delved that deep. So we thought we should.

An email out to their customers got a superb level of response. People wanted to talk about them. They wanted to help and they really wanted to share their opinions.

Ten hours of interviews later, plus a score of in-depth conversations with a cross-section of current, past and prospective customers, and we had a really good idea about what was great about our client.

We knew exactly what their customers valued. It wasn’t about all the bells and whistles; their customer wanted a product that did exactly what was needed, brilliantly. It wasn’t about buzzwords; their clients had to meet the business requirement. And what they really liked was the superb level of industry expertise our client had combined with their warm, friendly personality back up with great support.

When you have insights, when you have data, when you have stories – then you know what your customers need. From their feedback we crafted a proposition that was rooted in what the market wanted, not what we simply thought was a good idea at the time. It informed the direction of the company. It influenced every part of the business. It developed the creative brief for the brand new website.

When you’re struggling to find the right direction for your business. Talk to your customers. They are after all, always right.

Veronica Hannon