Have you noticed that most start-ups today are solving problems that ease the lives of their customers. From ordering a cab to your doorstep to software that can automate all tasks, businesses are making our (customers) lives faster, easier, safer, and simpler.
As a Business Coach working with SME Business owners, I propagate learning from other segments. Do read my earlier write up “Things Small Businesses can adopt from Large Corporate”. Continuing that theme, one of the things SME Business owners can learn from Start-Ups is to rethink the Customer’s Needs. Easier said than done! I know. And that’s why I developed “The Lazy Customer Model”
The model alters the way businesses think about their customers. Its starts with accepting that “Customers are Lazy” along with 2 statements.
Statement 1: Customers simply do not have the energy, intention, or time to think about your products and services in the same way that you do.
Statement 2: Customers need/ demand more information, more options, and more access.
Quite a paradox, right? And yet, both the statements are true.
Unfortunately, most businesses have figured out how to serve the 2nd statement, by giving more of everything. More features, More plans, More models, More content, More channels. More. More. More! And still, this is not enough to get More Leads, Convert More Business, Get More Referrals or Earn More Profits! Does this sound familiar?
Additionally, this deluge of information paralyzes the decision-making powers of a customer. The buying decision gets postponed or even cancelled
The missing link is the first statement, so let me re-iterate that – Customers simply do not have the energy, intention, or time to think about your products and services in the same way that you do. In other words- Customers Are Lazy!
So, what does this mean to you, the business owner?
It means that your business needs to work so much harder to serve its customers. It means that you need to do the heavy lifting, so that your customers have it easier. Let’s try and break this down further.
Step 1- Know Thy Customer
You cannot redefine your Customer Strategy, without knowing your customers intimately. Businesses need to invest time and effort in diving below the tip of the iceberg.
It’s not enough to just know who your customers are? Businesses need to know why are they your customers? What do they expect when they do business with you? What needs do you fulfil and what needs do you not fulfil? Who else serves them (competition?) Why do the customers go to our competitors? How do customers find you or your product? What are their perceptions of the value you provide? What is their intention at the point of contact with you? What do customers really want, when do they want it, where do they want it, why do they want it, how do they want it?
Like I said you need to do all the heavy lifting! No customer is going to fill up a survey form and share all this information.
Step 2- Make it Easier to do Business with you.
One of the parameters of “Easy” is Simple.
An audit of complexity is the place to start when we want to make things easier. Examine your business and ask these questions.
- What are the steps my customers take to find me and contact me? Can I reduce the number of steps?
- How do my customers evaluate my products/ services? Can I simplify the information required to evaluate my products? Remember Quality is better than Quantity.
- Do my customers trust my product / industry? What can I do to make it easier for them to trust me?
Evaluate your Customer’s Path to Purchase and identify how to make it faster, clearer, and safer. Remove any additional steps that could cause any inconvenience for the customer. Talk to your customer facing teams to get these insights. You will be surprised at the wealth of information that they have about the customer’s preferences and issues.
Think beyond your product and service. The Path to Purchase, is a series of steps the customer takes before and after your product. Look into your marketing communication. How easy is it for your customers to see your marketing communication and make the purchase? How efficient is your payment system? What are the questions that your customers may have before and after the purchase? How can you deliver this information proactively before they ask for it?
Evaluate your competitor’s customer experience. Visit them as a customer and identify what are they doing to reduce the friction in the Path to Purchase. Adapt and adopt their best practices.
Think of the various ways in which customers use your products or services. Can you help them with their “Jobs to be done”? Can you help meet their goals easily and quickly?
Talk to your Customers. The Happy and the Unhappy. Don’t’ just fill up a form but have a candid open conversation with them. Ask them, what convinced them to buy from you?
If possible, talk to ex customers or potential customers who did not buy from you at all. Find out what stopped them from buying from you?
Connect the dots from your marketing to sales to delivery to service. Is your delivery mechanism convenient for your customers? Do they have to wait a long time to receive your product and wait a longer time to use it? Can your customers access your service teams quickly and easily? Do your service teams respond to support requests quickly and efficiently? Do your service teams get the same type of requests always? What can you do to proactively address some of these common service requests?
A word of caution. Do not fall prey to “The Lazy Entrepreneur” syndrome that prevents business owners to delve deeper into the information collected. Deficiency of Depth is the most common reason for failed research and lack of insights.
This intensive audit will give you a plethora of ideas to make your customer’s life easier. Implement these ideas in a staged manner. Position each new process as a value add to your customer. You will land up creating an interlocking grid of processes, values, services that improve the life of your customers.
Remember “A lazy customer is beneficial to your business”. It allows you to control the direction and density of your customer interaction. It hence is in your hand to decide how hard you are willing to work to help this lazy customer.