Understanding Customers is an Essential Part of Business Acumen

Understanding Customers is an Essential Part of Business Acumen

There was a time when product development did product development, sales did sales, IT did IT, and the customer? Well, that’s the job of customer service and marketing.

Most businesses have figured out that approach no longer works. Instead, product developers are working side-by-side marketing staff to apply agile methods to bring products to market. Marketing, customer service and IT are joining forces to analyze customer data, understand customer needs, and influence future purchases.

Customer knowledge and understanding is integrated with every aspect of business acumen. From the front-line to the C-suite, there’s a story behind every customer. This is the backdrop that creates customer connections; those that stimulate product innovation, customer or user experiences, and the relationships between your brand and the hearts and minds of those customers.

Let’s examine key areas of customer understanding that can vastly improve a business person’s ability to understand their customer and what motivates them to act.

Taking Customer Awareness beyond Demographics

It’s important we know our customers beyond the dimensions of age, income, profession, gender, etc. These attributes are still important, of course, but customer awareness is so much more. What motivates someone to act, whether they’re buying a new product or checking a box to cancel a monthly subscription?

The art of understanding consumer motivation results in businesses creating an experience or product the individual desires. How we develop this understanding begins with creating a customer profile that becomes a detailed characterization of their daily journey.

Data analytics is making a science of this art, but taking the time to interact with customers in person still nets highly valuable results. Business people who aspire to improve their own business acumen need to spend time in-market, making field or site visits and knowing how to observe behavior and what to ask people about what motivates their decisions.

How to Connect with Customers

When interacting with customers, either in person or online or on the phone, listening is most important. Listen for the emotion behind their words.

Master copywriters Michael Masterson and John Forde believe the question that makes the biggest difference often goes unasked:1 What does my prospect already know? Meaning, what does the prospect know about a product and company? How much do they really know about the problems a product solves? What do they know about other solutions that are out there, and the competitors who make them?

The answers will become the building blocks of successful new offerings and outreach, say Masterson and Forde.

Social media is fast becoming the best way to connect with customers, who increasingly want to connect with their favorite brands on a regular basis. As digital strategist Andrew Medal wrote for Forbes, business have to “double-down on social.”

Instagram, he says, is a social media platform with power: “It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Instagram lets you promote that story via the image(s) you post and the text you narrate.” Facebook allows for a longer narrative, and Twitter excels at reaching people in the moment.

Social media is an excellent way to weave the customer into your narrative, helping them feel a part of your community – something research is showing customers want from their brand experience.  These channels also allow businesses to connect with consumers in ways that help them improve service by personalizing it to each customer, which research also says is growing in customer demand.

The Customer Awareness Endgame

Throughout a campaign your goal is to create a Customer Value Proposition that details the perceived benefit a customer will experience from using your product or service. The team at the Business Acumen Institute will help you identify and take the steps necessary to developing this proposition, which will involve steps unique to each business.

The business acumen it takes to drive customer awareness, whether in the consumer or B2B arenas, requires a level of market intelligence that must be shared across all disciplines in a company. With training everyone can speak the same language regarding their market, how to understand it, how to connect with it and discern how their work will ultimately affect the consumer.

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