Do You Know What Your Customers Really Want?

When a customer comes to your business, you might think they’re looking for a lawn mower, tasty burger, software solution, or whatever your company sells, but it typically goes much deeper. Sure, they want the product…but they’re ultimately searching for what the product does for them.

What Customers Actually Crave

If you’ve never spent much time studying consumer psychology, then it’s time for a primer. According to Eric Almquist’s “Value Pyramid,” there are four kinds of needs, with 30 individual categories included within them. They are, from bottom-up: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact.

For brands to thrive, they must understand which elements and categories their customers are looking for – then find a way to align them with their products and services. The ones that do find enormous success.

“In financial services, for example, Charles Schwab has outperformed many other investment companies by excelling on four elements of value: variety (a wide range of investment products), providing access (multiple contact and advice channels available around the clock), making money (generates income for customers), and quality (numerous Lipper Fund Awards for investment performance),” Almquist explains.

Another example would be Mid-Atlantic Door Group, Inc., a leading distributor of Overhead Door products. As you’ll see on their homepage – among other places – garage doors are just the physical product. They’re really selling honesty, reliability, and customer service.

Not every consumer wants the same things, but you’ll be amazed by how similar your target customers are. And once you drill down and identify the handful of value points that really matter, it’ll become easier to make choices that serve the best interests of your brand.

How to Give Them What They Want

The question is, how do you bridge the gap between knowing what your customers crave and providing it for them? While it takes a lot of work, there are some practical steps you can take.

The first step is to be there for your customers. No matter what industry you’re in or what you’re selling, customers want the ability to reach out and contact you.

“A company can lose the consumers’ trust with delays in responding to a phone call or email,” entrepreneur Tom Borg explains. “When a long time elapses after a customer’s contact with a small business and the follow-up or lack thereof, trust erodes rapidly. A good guideline is to have all phone calls and emails returned in 24 hours or less.”

In addition to being responsive, you need to convey a clear and consistent brand story. Customers should be able to tell exactly what your brand stands for every time they engage you – whether it’s the first time they’ve been exposed to your brand, or they’ve been an existing customer for years.

Finally, your customers want to know they’re getting value from their purchase and interactions with your brand. Keep in mind that value is a subjective term, but do work hard to ensure you’re providing more value than the competition.

Turn on Your Listening Ears

If you think back to when you were a child, or when you were raising young children of your own, you can probably recall a time where someone said something to the effect of, “Turn on your listening ears.” In other words, children are often told that they need to stop tuning things out and actually absorb what’s they’re being told.

In business terms, you need to stop assuming you know everything about your customers and turn on your listening ears. What you’ll discover is that they want something that cuts much deeper than your product or service. If you can zero in on what this is, you’ll be successful for years to come.


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