All companies know that business success correlates with how well a company satisfies its customers' needs. The success of Amazon, Apple and Tesla are often described as the organisation's ability to understand peoples' motivation, goals and desires. However, even though everyone is aware of the relationship between customer insights and long-term prosperity, a surprising number of companies don’t know their customers.
In the pursuit of clarity, and more in-depth understanding of potential buyers, too many companies rely on segmentation alone. Grouping customers and prospects based on factors such as company size, turnover and industry will only give you a vague idea of the customer’s needs. Others seem to think they can discover market needs just by creating ambiguous personas and assign them with names, families and professions. However, these usually lack a solid foundation and therefore becomes so diffuse that no one really can relate to them.
It’s time to realise that while these fictional methods may be helpful tools they will never make an organisation customer-centric on their own. If you really want to create products and services that solve customer needs, you need to start with finding out what it is like to be a human being in the increasingly digitalised world of today. If you don't have a general understanding of it yet, now is the time. Once you have a basic understanding, you can start to segment the market and create valid personas based on input that matters.
A century of changing behaviours
Although it is hard to determine which era has contributed with the greatest innovations, there is no doubt that the car, television and internet have had a major impact on human behaviour. Since the beginning of the 1900's, several innovations have been embraced in our everyday lives. Let's take a closer look at how these have shaped our behaviours, needs and desires.
We live in an information society
In September, this year Google will celebrate its 20th anniversary. During its existence, the search engine has changed the way we think, talk, and interact. It has become our primary source of knowledge. Whenever we need information, the answer can be found within a few seconds. When we arrive at the holiday destination, many of us have already experienced the environment through Google Earth. When we visit the hospital, most of us already have an idea about the disease based on having googled the symptoms.
With the instant access to information, we have developed a need for prompt and accurate answers. This is not only noticeable in the hospitals, where patients sometimes claim they know better than the doctors, but also in every sales situation. Today, potential buyers expect the seller to be an expert in the industry that specific customer operates within. Knowledge has become a key characteristic for any salesperson.
Everyone is visual & emotional
It's getting harder and harder to remember the life before social media. The emergence of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have made it convenient for everyone to share moments, opinions and ideas. It allows us to communicate with friends all over the world, and as the mobile camera has improved, our social media feeds are filled with images and videos.
The large amount of both professional and user generated content makes it difficult for companies to cut through the noise. Today, people tend to ignore content that is not relevant, interesting or attracting. To reach out, companies are required to produce content with high quality and relevance.
No one has time
As the boundaries between work and leisure slowly fade away, people are getting busier than ever before. The things that are not scheduled in the daily calendar usually gets forgotten and there is barely time to put in new activities. Between work and family life, our time is spent on an ever-increasing amount of on-demand video entertainment, podcasts and social media.
Meanwhile, there are many companies competing for your customer's attention. Whether you sell a service or a product, it will be crucial to learn how to reach the customer online. Keep in mind, that your future customers will not pick up the phone or make appointments with strangers—they want to get to know you on their own time, online, first.
These were a few of my reflections on how it is to be human today. What are your thoughts on how it is to be a human being today? How have things changed and how will they change going forward?