“Do you want your business idea to succeed? Of course. No one creates a new company, product, or service hoping that it fails. Despite your good intentions, you might be missing a few key things that could give your venture a better chance at long-term success.
You’ve likely heard the adage “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, you can make a similar statement about your business’s relationship with its customers. Customers are a major factor — if not the most important factor — in making sure your business thrives now and in the future. After all, you depend on customers buying your product or service to bring in the money needed to keep your operation going. If your customers are happy, your business will succeed.
To truly set your company up for success, make sure it has the following three things:
1. The intel to give customers what they want (Hint: It’s a long list)
When it comes to knowing what customers want, observing the success of companies like Amazon may lead you to believe that affordability and speed are the most important things in consumers’ eyes, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
That’s not to say speedy service and low prices don’t matter at all — they contribute significantly to your customers’ overall experience. But quality and other aspects of the customer experience are equally important. A whopping 92 percent of customers said they would stop buying from a company after just three or fewer negative customer service experiences, according to Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey. That doesn’t give you a lot of room for error.
To deliver on the quality and experience customers crave, you’ll need to stay tuned in to what they really want. You can do this by inviting your customers to a Facebook group related to your industry. Between sharing memes and swapping stories, you’ll get to know them on a more personal level. You can also utilize feedback software to get timely customer input. Rachel Beider, CEO of Brooklyn-based massage centers Massage Greenpoint and Massage Williamsburg, says her company uses Listen360, software that sends out a brief survey after every appointment to elicit customer feedback. As Beider notes, “We can immediately see who our promoters are and who had a less-than-perfect experience, which gives us an opportunity to reach out before we might lose that person as a customer.”
Make sure these feedback methods are part of your strategy. After all, a Cint survey found that customers are 62 percent more likely to purchase a company’s products if the company has asked their opinion. And more than half of these customers said they would even be more loyal to the brand.
2. Products and services designed with empathy
It may not be news to you that taking an empathetic approach to business will improve your company’s odds of success. It’s clear that the members of your customer service team must be able to empathize with customers in order to assist them in the best way possible. But you should also be incorporating empathy into one other key business function that might not be so obvious: product design.
By designing a product or service with empathy, your team will gain the insights needed to produce a high-quality offering that meets customers’ needs. Have your product designers put themselves in your customers’ shoes, encouraging them to explore the difficulties consumers face. This experience will give them, as IDEO’s Human-Centred Design Toolkitdescribes it, a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for.” To inspire your designers to recognize which features and changes could constitute a major improvement for the people actually using your product, follow the context mapping method.
This method involves four major stages: discovery, immersion, connection, and detachment. For instance, if you’re designing a product to be used in a fast casual restaurant, discovery might involve getting a behind-the-scenes look at the limited space and working conditions of people behind the counter and in the kitchen, while immersion could consist of designers participating as members of the restaurant team to experience the difficulties firsthand.
In the connection stage, the designers would recall the challenges they experienced and what worked well, and in detachment, they would put their designer hats back on to create solutions. By enlightening your product design with empathy, you’ll prove that you understand your customers beyond a surface level.
3. Products and services that improve your customers’ well-being
Customers don’t just want fun, luxurious products — they want something to improve their mental, physical, and/or spiritual well-being. The food industry has definitely been clued in to this trend: A recent Upserve survey showed a 149 percent increase in fermented foods on menus in 2018. Restaurant owners are clearly attempting to meet consumer demand for these so-called functional foods, which are known to aid digestion and may even boost immunity. Who would have predicted that fermented foods would be a focus of restaurants? It’s just proof that you need to consider how your products and services can be a vehicle for improving customers’ well-being.
With interest in healthy living on the upswing, entrepreneurs in all industries could stand to profit if they create something that contributes to their customers’ health. Apple recognized this when it provided users the option of setting their own screen time limits on their devices. This feature encourages customers to use Apple’s product less, which may seem counterintuitive, but it shows that the company cares about its users’ “digital wellness.” After all, too much screen time can negatively impact your sleep and vision.
The point here is not that you need to develop a “fitness” product or service; it’s that you should consider how you can adapt or position your current offering to provide users with a greater sense of health and wellness. The endgame is to enhance your customers’ well-being and improve their daily life in some way while focusing on the experience they have with your product.
Products that resonate with consumers will separate you from the pack. Set your business up for success by enabling your customers to tell you what they want, designing your products and services with empathy for their needs, and striving to enhance their well-being in the bargain. Embracing these three strategies will help ensure your offering resonates with customers and keeps them engaged over the long haul.”
Article by: Serenity Gibbons. She is the local lead for NAACP in Northern California with a mission is to ensure economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.