FountainBlue’s March 4 VIP roundtable on the topic of Strategies for Serving a More Demanding, More Diversified Customer Base! Below are notes from the conversation.
- Leaders from across industries, roles and sectors are impacted by a more empowered and informed customer base, and responding in many different ways.
- The pace of change has escalated, and the demands of the customers are elevated, which impacts the products and services offered and the processes and communications necessary to ensure smooth delivery and scale of growth and response.
- Hardware will continue to get commoditized, and the value will be on the software and services side of the equation.
- Customers are becoming progressively more empowered because of their access to information, the immediacy of access to information, the wide and broad availability of mobile devices, the social online networks, etc., Hence we are evolving from an age of information to an age of the customer, and leaders and companies who acknowledge and work with this trend will be more likely to benefit from it.
- Digitizing front end functions has gotten more standardized, but there’s still a great need to digitize the middle and back end processes, especially for non-tech industries. We need to support customers in being more agile, more flexible, and more scalable. See CBInsights March 3, 2016 report on digitization opportunities for start-ups. CBI Digitization Opportunities, March 3, 2016
Below is advice on how to better serve a demanding customer base.
- Look at the data and focus on not just what the loudest customers are saying, but what the suffering majority are saying or not saying.
- In this Age of the Customer, know what is nice-to-have, and what they need-to-have. It’s easier to sell one than the other.
- When customers are deciding whether to engage, they are considering is it easier and cheaper to solve the problem or live with the problem, so plan your offerings and pricing accordingly.
- The consumer is demanding quality products and services which area tailored to their needs. These customers are also in general more mindful of the earth and humanity, so organic and sustainable products and processes will be favored progressively more.
- Technologists need to work hand-in-hand with experts in non-technical fields in collaboration to meet the personalized needs of the consumer.
- Whereas before, business units and teams might have been isolated and siloed in working with customers, a more collaborative, coordinated communication and strategy is now necessary to better understand the current and future needs of the customer.
- There’s a trend toward selling to business unit managers and users more, even if the product is for an extremely technical audience. In other words, the user may not be the decision-maker, and the sales person needs to talk to both the decision-maker and the user to complete a sale.
- Data will remain important, of course. Be the type of leader who can translate what the data is saying to create a strategy and plan on how to better serve customers, better expand offerings.
- We will continue to progress toward pay-as-you-go functionality for a wide range of functions. Communicating clearly to customers and walking them through the adoption curve will help them help themselves in maintaining, supporting and tailoring their own solutions.
Below are some predictions for opportunities ahead.
- There’s a push pull between the need for security, access and privacy, and there’s an opportunity for organizations to provide innovative solutions for a broad and wide audience in this space.
- There will be a continued trend toward ‘freemium’ services as the new normal.
- Interactive solutions which allow customers to learn by doing through simulations provides a huge opportunity to train and educate workers.
- There will be a trend toward more collaborative, consultative selling by experienced enterprise professionals working with engaged customers to build and iterate use cases.
- There will be a trend toward paying customers for their aggregated usage data.
- Pretotype Labs is a PDF ebook which helps entrepreneurs and execs really understand and focus on what the customers want http://www.pretotypelabs.com
- AYTM (Ask Your Target Market http://www.aytm.com) allows entrepreneurs and execs to send tailored surveys to specific target audiences for small amounts of money.
Please join us in thanking our execs for their participation in our roundtable discussion and to our gracious hosts at Verifone. If you are a tech VP and interested in joining future VIP roundtables, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.