Category Archives: Market Research

Is Solving Your Customers’ Problems the Focus of Your Products & Services?

Are you solving problems for your customers, clients, and members or focusing on your organization’s needs instead?

While it can be tempting to wax poetically about how wonderful our products, services, and organizations are, our customers, clients, and members care about what they need, not what we have to offer. What are they worrying about? What aggravates them? How can we make their lives easier? Save them time and money?

Genie's magic lampKeeping up with what your customers want and need and how your organization can solve their problems is pivotal to success. What that answer is inevitably changes over time. That’s why evolving offerings and services continuously to meet changing needs that you regularly gauge is so critical. And letting go of what isn’t resonating anymore.

Once you have found great solutions to your customers’ needs then it becomes much easier to use clear consistent messaging and engaging story telling to spread the word about the benefits of your products and services.  Which kinds of customer problems you are going to solve flows from your mission and what you hopefully have already identified as your organization’s unique competitive advantage.

No matter how zippy or eye catching our slogan or graphics, if we are not taking care of what our customers need, someone else will inevitably step in who will.  What steps are you taking to solve your customer’s problems and communicate what you are doing to help them?

 

Using Social Media for Customer Service, HR, Operations and the Rest of Your Organization

Social media has grown way beyond being a marketing, public relations, and communications tool. At its heart the core of social media is connecting people, an ever evolving opportunity for people to engage, discuss, and share  perspectives, opinions, and information. So by definition social media impacts most aspects of an organization including product development, customer service, HR, and crisis management.

image of the world globe against digital backgroundAre you thinking through the best ways to use social media effectively throughout your organization to meet your goals and build community? Here are just a few examples of the many applications social media has across the organization:

Customer Service. Customers and potential customers are most likely discussing your products and services online, providing a constant virtual focus group. If customers do not get the service they want or something goes wrong with a product, they will be quick to share it online. Be sure to respond quickly and helpfully, remembering your response and the customer’s are in a very public forum.The positive is when you shine, you also may get complimented in that same public space. Obviously you want the positives to go viral, not to be a negative example used by social media experts for years to come (as happened with “United Breaks Guitars“).

This is all one more reason why most organizations want to have a strong presence on primary sites like facebook and twitter to provide outstanding customer service while also supporting their branding and messaging goals. Many organizations also encourage customer reviews on their own web sites getting the opportunity to address issues as they arise and get honest feedback about their products.

New Product Development. Listening to customers’ conversations on social media can provide invaluable input and pinpoint trends to help hone current products and services and get ideas for new ones. Innovative organizations have set up special web sites to invite customers to share new product ideas and vote on favorite ideas others have submitted, for example “My Starbucks Idea.” The sites often offer incentives such as potential prizes for winning ideas.

Crisis Planning and Management. The power of social media to build community and communicate makes it a critical interactive tool in a crisis. Messages can be communicated on the fly to the public and the media. Conversation on sites like facebook and google plus about ongoing issues can keep people up-to-date and get their questions answered.

Continue reading

How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

How well do you really know your most important customers, members, clients, or donors? The more you know about your key audience segments, the better you will be able to develop successful products and services that meet their needs and use the language that resonates most with them.

Can you picture your typical customers, clients, donors, or members in your mind? Do you really understand their challenges, the problems that cause them the most stress? What motivates them, worries them, makes them happy? In response, do you offer products or services that solve their problems, make a difference in their lives?

blue puzzle with red piece representing the solutionIn addition to conducting whatever regular market research you can afford, take every opportunity you can to talk with your customers, clients, and members. Ask caring questions and listen carefully – not only do people love most of all to be listened to, but their answers can be the key to your success.

Use an ongoing combination of listening and engaging through one-on-one conversations and social media  as well as market research to form the best picture possible of your most important constituents. People are probably already discussing your organization through social media sites like twitter and facebook, are you monitoring those conversations to learn and interact?

Conversations and listening can help clarify and explore further trends you learn through market research, just be sure to seek out discussions with enough people to get a complete picture and avoid basing decisions on just a couple of customers’ insights.

Reflect regularly on what you are hearing and learning and how you can help solve your constituents’ problems and make a difference in their lives. What if your goal was to see your customer’s face light up whenever someone mentions your organization’s name? Imagine what a strong force of customer evangelists you would have. What would it take to make that happen?

What Would Make Membership in Your Organization Recession-Proof?

Membership organizations have faced unprecedented challenges  in the last few years between the impact of the economy, massive changes to so many industry sectors and professions, and constantly evolving technology and ways of doing business. New  entrepreneurial membership web sites may enter your niche that offer online services that meet many of your members’ needs at a lower cost.

There is a sea change in people’s attitudes toward associations and other membership organizations. It is no longer a given for people to belong to a professional or trade association.

The bottom line – it is not about your organization, it is about your member or customer. What is in it for them?

What are the compelling reasons that people should belong – not because they are in this profession or business but because your organization gives them benefits that they cannot live without. Do you know what is important to your members and prospective members? What they need and want? What problems keep them up at night? How can you help solve them?

If your answers to these questions are based on historical answers, it is important to revisit them  through market research, listening to your constituents through social media and what they say when they contact your organization, and having regular conversations with members and prospective members in key segments. Take every opportunity you can to chat with people and listen carefully to what they care about. Ask questions about  how can we help you, how can we make a difference in your life and to your business?

Continue reading