Photo by Mikael Blomkvist
“Customers are defining themselves less by how many things they own and more by how curate their lives are in terms of possessions and experiences.” – IFS Blog
In the dynamic world of business today, nothing seems stable. Even customers, who for a while back had fewer expectations and limited preferences, have become more demanding and their needs and inclinations change rapidly. On the other hand, companies seem unable to keep up with the pace. However, companies have no choice but to increase their capabilities. They must adapt to the changing preferences of customers or risk being overtaken by competitors, who might understand the customer’s preferences a lot better.
We know that the balance of power has shifted in favor of customers today. They are the ones who determine the success or failure of a company. Without customers, there will be no business – period. Customer service is about keeping to the promises and coming through for customers each time. However, a company can only do all of this when they completely understand and anticipate the needs of customers.
They need to deliver beyond what they expect. Amongst the top changing preferences of customers, getting value over the business relationship ranks high. Companies can, however, use tools to provide the best customer service to their customers. An example of such tools is interactive decision trees, which you can use to create surveys.
So, how can you understand the changing preferences of customers?
Segment your Customers
We mentioned earlier that before trying to understand customers and meet their needs, it’s necessary to segment them based on various factors. This ‘breakdown’ helps to identify customer groups within the customer base who would need the company products and or services. By knowing the customers a company is targeting, it serves the customers better and gains a better understanding of the changing preferences of customers.
Most companies fail at understanding the changing preferences of customers and forget to leverage the strength of technology to serve their customers better. For example, putting together an online store where customers from far away can order, and making provisions for doorstep delivery. Given the role of technology, among the changing preferences of customers, are changes in shopping modes and payment processes. Understanding these variations will ensure that the company’s customers remain happy and stay with the company for a long.
Address customer complaints and issues
Another sure-shot way of understanding the changing preferences of customers is by making time to listen to and address their issues and complaints. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”– Bill Gates. If all companies were to understand this, they would get a lot better at keeping their customers happy. When customers complain, it means they are making the effort to provide feedback. They are in essence affording the company an opportunity to get better. Those companies that ignore or negate such ‘feedback’ are essentially closing doors for further business.
Learning and understanding the changing preferences of customers becomes a lot easier by gathering market intelligence and conducting research. Through a CRM system, companies are able to collect and store important customer statistics and data. It can prove indispensable in monitoring any changes in customer behavior and preferences. In addition, it allows the company to make corrective action, in case there seems to be a drop in buying.
The market today has a constant influx of competitors. Each one is more aggressive and competent than the previous one. Companies that cannot keep pace with the changing preferences of customers are sure to be relegated to oblivion. Constantly, ask customers whether they are happy with what the company provides and offers. It enables a company to improve and strengthen what it does well and rectify what customers consider as a weakness.
Customers constantly leave feedback. Listening to their comments and words gives companies insights into what they expect, the kinds of brands they prefer, what makes them feel special, and which aspects of a company delight or annoy them. As part of understanding the changing preferences of customers, it’s essential for a company to ensure that their employees treat customers well. It displays the company’s values and culture in the overall demeanor. The importance of staying in touch with and ‘speaking’ with customers cannot be underestimated. It’s part of the top preferences of customers.
Companies Create Proper Marketing Strategies
The fact is that without understanding the changing preferences of customers, companies are not able to put together relevant marketing strategies. Without pertinent strategies, a company’s chances of yielding good and high results would be grim. With thorough knowledge of customers and their changing preferences, a company can formulate relevant messages and distribute them through the most viable and relevant channels.
The choice of messages and channels is extremely critical since these would determine whether the customers actually receive the messages. If they do, whether those messages are relevant to them. The messages must resonate with the customers. They should be exciting and engaging. Customers are a sea of knowledge and insights. Companies must use their knowledge to develop their brand and products in a way that meets the constantly evolving tastes and preferences of customers.
Companies Keep Their Existing Customers Happy
Through a thorough understanding of the changing preferences of customers, a company can keep its existing customer base happy. We know that it is significantly harder to gain new customers as opposed to retaining the existing ones. When existing customers remain with a company for longer, they become loyal over time. Loyal customers translate to numerous repeat sales, testimonials, and referrals. All of this proves to be extremely advantageous to a business. Loyal customers buy from a company irrespective of price and other products available in the market.
They expect that the company would constantly meet and exceed their expectations. Understanding customers enables a company to understand why a customer would leave or stop buying. The fact is that satisfaction and happiness mean different things to different customers. Hence, customer satisfaction is a complex subject, which companies have a tough time articulating and measuring.
Changing Preferences helps eliminate the problem
Rather than trying to fix a problem only when it occurs, a company must look at proactively eliminating the root causes of the problem and avoiding defection. Customers would have their particular preferences, needs, and even mannerism. It is the responsibility of a company to keep pace with all the expectations of customers. Companies need to understand that relying on traditional measures and historical data will not suffice to anticipate future customer issues and needs. A company cannot gain the trust and confidence of customers without innovating, moving forward, and understanding the changing preferences of customers. Companies must consistently collect and analyze customer data. They need to use it to study current and predict future variations in customer behavior and profitability.
Paying attention to customers is no longer an option. it is a business necessity. While it may seem like a big and onerous task, no company today can survive without making the effort of understanding the changing preferences of customers. They need to make internal changes to comply with those preferences. While it may be a tall order, the rewards are great. The company’s overall reputation improves. The company receives repeat sales, glowing testimonials, and effective referrals.
The opinion and verdicts of customers hold a great deal of importance today. people are relying constantly on the comments and feedback of their friends, family, and existing users of a company’s products. One negative experience published can drive away prospective clients. It makes sense, therefore, for any company today to invest in methods to understand the changing preferences of customers. They should make the necessary improvements and changes in the company and its processes.