Don’t listen to your friends…listen to your customers

Don’t listen to your friends…listen to your customers

Being “customer centric” can be defined as “Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.” A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.

So what right?

Well customers are becoming more individualist, more cynical, less civil and increasingly turning from “hunted” to “hunter.” This is just a continuation of consumer empowerment that’s been strengthening for decades and the creation of the almighty “Prosumer”.

So who is this PROSUMER?

The term ‘Prosumer’ further defines this new strain of consumer behavior According to Wikipedia: “…a Prosumer is “progressive consumer” which emerged during the 2008 recession, and identifies a modern consumer who has changed their approach to the traditional methods and habits of purchasing products. A Prosumer is researching a product’s value, performance, and price through social networks (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc) and consumer product reviews (such as, before making a final decision or purchase. Within these websites a Prosumer researches all aspects of a products performance, price and social acceptance in relative comparison to similar products within the same category. The Prosumer is searching for the highest quality product that best meets their personal needs for the minimum amount of money they are willing to spend. Based on that search criteria, the Prosumer is also willing to venture into new shopping distribution channels in order to purchase that product.     The Prosumer terminology was initially identified by the Earl Jean brand, where the company recognized a new consumer niche of premium denim consumers who because of the economic downturn desired a high quality, status image, socially acceptable and high performing jeans wear products at value prices.”

So how do you respond to this new trend in consumer behaviour?

Buyers are being told increasingly to “shop around” and that loyalty is becoming synonymous with naivety. If you read any popular blog about money or household finance there are deals galore for ‘new customers only”. These go a long way to attracting customers away from their existing relationships’. I’ll give you an example…

BT (British Telecom) Broadband Vs Sky Broadband

I was a long standing customer of BT, for almost 10 years in fact , until one day I decided to look at my broadband bill which I normally paid by direct debit to see exactly what was going on; I wasn’t happy. I called BT to try and negotiate a better deal but they weren’t budging. A few days later I saw an advert on the London Underground for Sky Broadband. They were offering 6 months free to new customers! How could I refuse?! So before you could say 20 mega bit download I was quickly on my way to becoming a Sky Broadband customer.

One of the reasons I moved aside from the offer of 6 months free was because at peak hours BT would slow down my internet speeds at 6pm sharp. They said this happens because it’s the time when broadband is being used the most across the UK and they’re simply sharing the bandwidth. That being the case I still wasn’t at all happy about it but didn’t grumble because I thought I was the only one who had a bug bear over this issue. But I was wrong, because a central message in the Sky advert for their broadband promised that they would not reduce your speeds during peak times – brilliant!  Now this is testament to Sky’s consumer centric approach. By carefully analysing customer feedback they realised that 100’s of ‘000’s of BT customers were unhappy with slower speeds during peak hours.

I wondered if BT would respond to this market challenge and funnily enough about 2 months later they too offered a 6 month free deal with no bandwidth restrictions at peak times! But, It would have been too late for their previous customers to move back as they would now have been in a 12 month contract with Sky broadband. Or – were BT simply trying to snag some of Sky’s old customers…who knows!

Who is winning?

The point is that throughout this process the customer, me, wins each time. An entrepreneur or business owner in today’s market your customer has to feel like they’re winning. So when Monday morning rolls around, listen a little more keenly to your customers; because if you don’t, they might just start listening to your competition.

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