Knowing the customer
The basic requirement for the success of any enterprise is the knowledge and monitoring of your market and, more specifically, your customer’s expectations and needs
To the desperation of businessmen, consumers, however, have become increasingly invisible to companies.
This change is the result of a radical transformation that has been causing the power to migrate from organizations to customers.
Nowadays the customer has started to dictate the forms of relationship by which he wants to keep in touch with his suppliers, and almost always the most relevant criteria have considered comfort, convenience and agility!
If in the past, to make a payment or withdraw an extract, it was necessary to go to the bank, today with the telephone and ATMs, physical presence at the branch itself is no longer necessary.
To buy an appliance or a car, the trip to the store or dealership, which was previously essential, nowadays, with the Internet, has become almost expendable.
Even the food or household supply of consumer products has undergone changes with the most frequent home deliveries both from restaurants and through apps (iFood, for example) and restaurants.
Thus, direct contact between customer-seller or customer-manager of establishments is becoming less and less possible.
In addition to being more sporadic, this link has also been changing and becoming impersonal, as it started to materialize much more through the telephone, instant messaging applications. social networks or emails than by your own voice or physical presence!
If this direct and personal relationship does not occur between the parties, it becomes much more complex for the executive or entrepreneur to monitor or identify the constant changes in his clientele.
The distancing prevents one from understanding the profile changes, the surprising changes in habits and from becoming aware of the inevitable criticisms and the desired suggestions.
In other words, despite meeting the demands of modern consumers, the distance between the parties has grown so much that it is no longer possible to know & foresee the behavior of the customer, even though he is present “at the counter”!
If with him present, it was no longer an easy task, what can we say from a distance!
In these times of globalization, with the increasing offer of products, services and channels, the consumer, naturally, prefers the one who understands him best and, due to this knowledge, has to offer what he really wants, under the conditions that please him. and in the time frame you need!
Large companies, in order to solve such problems, have used sophisticated tools through computerization and the use of modern (and expensive) CRM / customer relationship management software.
It is, however, only one of the possible ways to solve this difficulty and, even so, a solution aimed at large enterprises, due to the considerable investments required.
Qualitative Research Techniques
Another way much more accessible, and available to all, would be qualitative research, through different techniques that are able to present numerous solutions. Some examples of the techniques are:
- Focus groups make it possible to apprehend countless personal sensations, impressions and assessments. Something that other techniques hardly offer, even in comparison with the most sophisticated ones.
- In-depth interviews, on the other hand, help to understand the individual behavior of clients in relation to certain more complex issues.
- The “hidden customers” simulate the situations of interaction between company & consumer, a technique that can signal any flaws for the necessary corrections.
- There is also ethnography, the newest methodology that has been applied with great success in the field of qualitative research, based on the knowledge accumulated in anthropology, whose results are, in the same way, surprising.
And the most important is that these are low cost alternatives, with high return and very high speed of response.
Despite the sophisticated computer systems in use, even large companies periodically do not give up “listening” and “analyzing” what consumers think. Let them be your “customers”, “ex-customers”, “competition-customers” and even still “non-customers”.
These studies make it possible for executives, entrepreneurs, planners and managers to be even more (or again) in direct contact with their audience. They rescue an “intimacy” that has been lost in these modern times and providing valuable knowledge for directing business towards success.