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The Importance of Really Knowing What Your Customer Expects

It might be a little insensitive to draw lessons from a failed election campaign and a tragic fire in a London tower block but they might suggest reasons for companies to think even harder about the customer in this fast changing world.

By the end of April 2017 Theresa May had forcibly delivered a set of scripted speeches and taunted an apparently weak political opponent. She had created, in short order, a personal brand, characterised by the mantra ‘strong and stable’ to compare with her ‘coalition of chaos’ opponents. Her personal ratings were very high and the May brand was distinctive in many people’s minds.

Ten weeks later, after a poor, and often absent, unscripted campaign, a few manifesto ‘clarifications’ and an election that played to her opponent’s campaigning strengths May’s personal ratings collapsed.

A disregard of listening to her ‘customers’ concerns converted ‘strong and stable’ to ‘weak and wobbly’. Comments about her past decisions compared badly to those promised for the future. The brand was destroyed. 

There is a clear message in this for companies. They too should remember that actions speak louder than words. When actions and words are consistent and coherent the brand value can grow. However, any deviation can induce a set-back and highly visible ones can make any recovery very difficult.

The Grenfell Tower fire was a tragedy which almost certainly could have been avoided. Without speculating about the causes we can examine the aftermath.

The early responders (firemen, medical staff, etc.) were excellent, managing the crisis rapidly, waiving rules where the situation dictated. The police took command of the crisis, and followed their procedures to the letter, which actually prevented them giving speedy information to the victims’ families. The local council organisation was completely under-resourced and unable to respond to the needs of their ‘customers’’. National government officials repeated warnings about the dangers of speculation, but conveyed a message of lack of transparency.

The heroes were the local community and the victims that escaped with their lives. Their speed of response was outstanding and their ability to organise relief, communicate and be informed by mobile devices was far greater than that of the authorities. Emergency procedures exist in abundance (on paper) but how recently had they been tested? Had they been updated for a much changing and significantly faster world?

Companies do not generally expect such traumatic events but they can learn from reviewing their own protocols for contact with their customers. Are these rapid enough and do they make it easy to address issues? Do your customers have faster access to information than your customer service centres? A classic article about understanding how customers navigate their way through a purchase process was entitled ‘Staple yourself to an order’. Do this and find out how your customers feel and behave when they interact with you!       

 In summary;

  • Ensure your actions are consistent with your messages
  • Ensure your customer-facing processes match the capability and preferences of your customers 

Tinderbox Business Development has much experience in this area and provides tools and techniques that allow businesses to get to fully understand their customers’ needs and thereby know them better. If you feel that a free, no obligation meeting might be of use, contact us at: ignite@tinderboxbusinessdevelopment.co.uk

or call us on: 0116 232 5231

David Beer

Tinderbox Partner - London East

david.b@tinderboxbusinessdevelopment.co.uk

07423 059356

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