Are You Providing What Your Customers Want?
“You can have the best product or service in the world, but if people don’t buy - it’s worthless. So in reality it doesn’t matter how wonderful your new product or service is. The real question is - will they buy it?” - Noel Peebles
Each of us uses the principles of psychology every day and probably don’t even realize it. When we get nervous right before giving that big speech, we are activating our autonomic nervous system. When we talk to ourselves in our heads, telling ourselves to “calm down,” “work harder,” or “give up,” we are utilizing cognitive approaches to change our behaviors and emotions. When a child is disciplined for doing something wrong, we are utilizing the learning principle of punishment. What is so important about understanding human behavior, emotions, and the mind that Psych 101 is a required course at most colleges for a degree of any kind?
What advantage does this knowledge lend the business professional? Psychologists not only spend their time helping people with their problems, they perform research to better understand why people behave the way they do. Industrial-organizational psychologists work with businesses and organizations to determine ways to make them more productive and to improve workplace relationships. We use the same principles of psychology to determine who the target audiences are for our business.
Who Are Your Customers, Really?
How do you know who your target customers are? How well do you really know them? Do they browse and buy on impulse or buy only what they need and want? Does the customer shop alone or with coworkers, friends, and family (who might influence their purchases)? Are they brand loyal? Do they shop online or just research on the Web to find the best price? And how much money do they have to spend? Understanding how your target audience thinks before buying is key. Making money in a small business is important, but truly understanding the customer’s way of thinking will make or break business growth.
How aware are customers of your brand or business compared to your competitors? First, identify how the customers know about you. The prospective customer is made aware of your product and/or service through:
- Search engines
- Referral from a friend or colleague
- Reading a review or article of your company
- Face-to-face marketing
- Viral marketing
- Trade shows and events
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more)
Websites are an integral part of marketing success. Customers visit websites and read as much as they can to get a sense of what a business is about and learn as much as they can about the product or services being offered. The content on a website should build trust or the prospective customer will quickly leave and never return. In doing so, a website should answer questions the consumer has, and have content written for them and not just about who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Having a “call to action” on every product or service page will help visitors know how to proceed to the next step.
If the majority of information found is negative, you can almost certainly kiss that prospective customer good-bye. To be in the race, a company’s Website with products and services has to be highly visible on the Internet. The content on your Website has to build trust with the visitors. If someone visits a company’s website, they expect a prompt and courteous response that shows professionalism to all customer and prospect queries. Your reputation on the Internet must be positive and the products and/or service offered MUST be quality. These points can be boiled down into understanding how your brand and reputation are created on the Web. The formula is simple.
Web Presence/Credibility + Product Quality + Support = Reputation/Brand
If these three elements are not in place, a business will struggle to have a long-term future. If they are all in place, in addition to having a good online reputation, your business can grow rapidly through word of mouth.
Finally, the customer has done the research and brings together everything he or she has learned and makes a decision. The choices are:
- Buy your company’s product or service
- Buy a competitor’s product or service
- Buy nothing and stay on the fence about the buying decision
Are You Providing What YOUR Customers Want? From reading many books and blogs, this is what I have found to be the most common elements for customers seeking to buy from companies.
Knowledgeable and Available Employees
During a customer’s buying decision, they want knowledgeable assistance, available when they want it. Customers place a high value on receiving accurate information and they want to be served by employees who know their product and services inside and out.
Friendly and Cooperative Staff
Customers not only want product-savvy salespeople, they want them to be friendly, courteous, and efficient. Your staff should value each customer for more than just an individual sale.
This is where price factors in for the customer. Most customers see price as only one component of the bigger picture of “value” that includes the product, service, information, and follow-up.
Make it easy for the customer! Customers want products that are well organized, attractively displayed, and easy to find. This is how today’s customers define convenience. The easier it is for them to shop for a product or service, the more money small businesses can make on the bottom line.
A Fast and Efficient Finish
This final stage is where many businesses fall flat, right at the finish line. Customers who are in the decision-making process are proceeding on your time. They want considerate and knowledgeable assistance. However, once the buying decision is made, get out of their way because now you are working on their time. Customers want to complete the transaction and be on their way as quickly as possible. If your product or service is not immediately available, then be sure to meet your committed timelines for delivery. This is not the time for making additional suggestions. The customer has already made up his or her mind and is ready to move.